Dan Andrews says he ‘won’t apologise’ for Victoria’s slow reopening plan

Rhiannon TuffieldNCA NewsWire
Sydney will have greater freedoms than Melbourne once it reaches 70 per cent vaccination. NCA NewsWire / James Gourley
Camera IconSydney will have greater freedoms than Melbourne once it reaches 70 per cent vaccination. NCA NewsWire / James Gourley Credit: News Corp Australia

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he “won’t apologise” for the state’s staggered pathway to freedom after stark comparisons were made with NSW’s reopening strategy.

As the two states continue to battle the Delta variant and hundreds of cases each day, both Mr Andrews and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have been criticised over their “glacial” plans for emerging from lockdown.

Victoria is taking a much more cautious approach than NSW when it reaches the 70 per cent double dose vaccination target, lagging behind on home visits, hairdressing, hospitality and gyms.

“I’m not here to apologise for doing this cautiously and following the science,” Mr Andrews told ABC News Breakfast on Tuesday.

“We’re taking an approach that’s based on public health advice. That’s what has got us to this point, that’s what we’ll continue to see.”

PREMIER PRESSER
Camera IconDaniel Andrews has defended the state’s decision to reopen slower than NSW. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

For the first time since this outbreak, Victoria has overtaken NSW with daily case numbers, with the state recording 867 cases and four deaths on Tuesday.

Mr Andrews announced on Sunday that Victoria was set to reach its 80 per cent first dose vaccination target, but authorities remained adamant on a slower reopening so the state’s hospital services wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

Data has revealed that 77.9 per cent of Victorians have had their first dose, with 47.7 per cent fully vaccinated.

Covid Coverage
Camera IconAlmost half of eligible Victorians are now fully vaccinated. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia
EXTENDED MELBOURNE LOCKDOWN
Camera IconMelbourne has become the lockdown capital. NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia

Both states have recently released their road maps to reopening, outlining what will happen once their populations reach the 70 per cent fully vaccinated threshold.

Sydney hospitality, gyms and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen, and up to five people will be allowed to visit a person’s home, with 20 people allowed in outdoor settings.

In comparison, Melbourne’s plan will open pubs to 50 fully vaccinated people outdoors, with hairdressing and personal care only open for fully vaccinated people.

There will also be no home visits allowed in the state.

LOCKDOWN WEATHER
Camera IconSydney will have greater freedoms than Melbourne once it reaches 70 per cent vaccination. NCA NewsWire / James Gourley Credit: News Corp Australia

When asked why Victoria was doing things differently to NSW, Mr Andrews said his state was already at a disadvantage.

“New South Wales are out in front of us because they were given additional vaccine supply. We don’t begrudge them that,” he said.

“It means we’ll be able to watch on and see exactly how this unfolds, particularly from a health system point of view.

“I’m not going to give to our nurses a fight they can’t win. It will be very tough for them in the weeks and months ahead.”

South Melbourne Market
Camera IconBoth Victoria and NSW have been slammed for moving at a glacial pace. David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

Both states have been criticised by industry groups who said leaders were moving at a “glacial pace” when it came to reopening.

Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang slammed both leaders, saying many business owners had been unable to trade for 19 months.

“Our political leaders need to understand that business owners and their staff cannot continue to wait,” Mr Lang said.

“We are urging both governments to allow fully vaccinated businesses to trade with those who are fully vaccinated.

“If it is safe for them to do so at 80 per cent, then why is it unsafe for them to trade with each other now?”

rhiannon.tuffield@news.com.au

Originally published as Dan Andrews says he ‘won’t apologise’ for Victoria’s slow reopening plan

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