Dan Andrews takes dig at Sydney's freedom picnics

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Daniel Andrews has says police will not be patrolling ‘every park’ checking everyone having a picnic is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, in a dig at Sydney’s heavily policed lockdown.

The Victorian premier on Thursday announced lockdown would be eased in Melbourne and Ballarat the state reached 70 per cent first-dose vaccinated.

Up to five people who have had both doses from a maximum of two households will be allowed to gather outside from 11.59pm on Friday.

However, Mr Andrews said police would not be actively patrolling public areas to make sure everyone taking advantage of the new rule was fully immunised.

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Double-jabbed Sydneysiders in lockdown were given the same freedom on September 13.

But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said those gathering for what have been dubbed ‘freedom picnics’ must be able to prove their vaccination status to police.

‘We are not going to have police in every park – we are not going to have police out there asking people to prove they have been vaccinated,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘We can’t have a situation where we are going park by park, picnic by picnic. [But] that’s not an invitation to break the rules. 

‘There’s a degree of good faith in this. I’m asking people to do the right thing – if they do that we’ll be out of lockdown sooner.’

Mr Andrews on Thursday also doubled the travel limit in locked-down parts of Victoria from 5km to 10km and said outdoor gyms and skate parks can now re-open.

Those in lockdown will also be able to exercise outside for four hours per day, an increase on the two hours currently permitted. Two people will be allowed to train outdoors with a personal trainer.

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Mandatory vaccinations will be introduced for anyone working on construction sites with at east one jab  required by next Friday as the state looks to send tradies back to work. 

Mr Andrews also resisted calls to end the curfew, insisting he was following health advice that they work and distanced himself from NSW ending their curfew. 

‘Victorians can be very clear about one thing. We act on health advice. And I have no advice to remove the curfew. The curfew works. The curfew means less people are out visiting people in their homes doing things that are against the rules,’ he said.

‘We’re not in NSW. You can speak to NSW about what health advice they get. And you can also speak to them about whether they follow health advice, and all those questions. 

‘I can’t answer for decisions that the NSW government make. I’m here to talk about the advice that’s been provided to us.’ 

The new rules are set to come into play from Friday. Outdoor gatherings in NSW are currently allowed for a maximum of five people and all must be vaccinated. 

Real estate inspections will also re-commence under appointments only in Victoria, with only people from the same household allowed to attend and the agent must stand outside during the inspection.  

Tour buses can also operate in regional Victoria with up to 10 people. 

The government said the ‘modest easing in restrictions’ come despite growing concerns about case numbers in the state.

Tradies must show they have had their first dose of the vaccine by midnight on Thursday September 23 with a number of Covid outbreaks reported on job sites.

‘While these changes can go ahead, public health officials have become increasingly concerned about Covid-19 transmission and exposure in construction settings, with evidence that it’s emerging as a ‘vector’ of the virus into regional areas,’ Mr Andrews said in a release.

‘Changes will be made to limit further spread in this industry, allowing people to keep working safely.’

Those mandates include the mandatory vaccination of workers.  

Thursday is the first time the state had more than 500 new cases in a day since the height of its deadly second wave on August 4 last year.

The 366 mystery cases not linked to the rest of the outbreak are also the most this year, with chief health officer Brett Sutton warning the risk of 1,000 a day is ‘very real’.

They were diagnosed from 61,961 tests and 41,758 vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday as Victoria approaches 70 per cent first dose coverage. 

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