• Victorian Premier will not lock down the whole state “to protect those who do not want to protect themselves.”
  • Over 420,000 jabs in one week and 2.6million AstraZeneca jabs in Victoria
  • Commonwealth – 4 million Pfizer vaccine swap with Great Britain – 1million for Victorians and 1.2 million to NSW.
  • Year 12 Student vax blitz 7 to 17 September
  • Priority to 12-15-year-olds for Pfizer and AstraZeneca for 60-year-olds

There was a clear shift in narrative by the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews this Friday as COVID-19 infections in the state are rising.

Victoria recorded 208 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest daily figure in over 12 months. The majority, 112 cases are under investigation.

“Running COVID-19 to zero is no longer an option,” Premier Andrews said.

Neos Kosmos asked the Premier if he was considering an incentive for double vaccinated Victorians, like Greece, Denmark, and Sweden, where fully vaccinated rates range between 56 per cent and 80 per cent.

“We will not open at 35 per cent double vaccination, where we are now, we will open the economy to the vaccinated once we get to 70 per cent and 80 per cent, and lockdown will no longer be an option.

“We will be calling it a lock out; I’m not going to lock down the whole state to protect those who do not want to protect themselves.”

The Premier said that he agreed with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on “many levels” and hinted at “outdoor pilot programs” for the vaccinated.

READ MORE: Scott Morrison and 80 business leaders call for borders to open at 80 per cent vaccination

“We will be testing things, like outdoor pilot programs for the vaccinated and outdoor learning at schools and they will be announced soon.”

Neos Kosmos asked the Premier about the grim economic impact on small business. And cited a national coffee distributor that is losing $150,000 a day because of the New South Wales and Victorian lockdowns, and a coffee house in Melbourne that is losing up to $10,000 a week on coffee sales alone.

“I am very aware of the impact of lockdowns to small business in our community.

“I can’t tell you right now, but I know Minister (Martin) Pakula (Minister for Jobs, Innovation & Trade) is now working out more support for business with the Commonwealth.”

The Premier was confident that Victoria will reach its vaccination target and underscored that in this week alone “426,317 jabs were delivered in arms.”

“The Prime Minister is giving us a great shout-out, we have had a fantastic rollout of people wanting to vaccinate I do not believe there is that much hesitancy, we have already administered 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca.

“The whole strategy now is to ensure that infections and hospitalizations don’t get ahead of vaccines.”

The target remains at 80 per cent double vaccination before Victoria opens, but “there will be some milestones on the way,” said the Premier, offering a glimmer of hope to the fully vaccinated.

“Victorians are giving so much, and I am immensely proud and thankful, but we will see cases rise, but we have to slow the rate of increase, our health system will be smashed to smithereens if we open up now,” the Premier said.

READ MORE: New COVID records for 1,431 cases in NSW and 208 in Victoria

COVID19 Commander Jeroen Weimar relayed the stark news that the average age of Victorians in ICU is 49years-old, and that 20 of those in serious condition in Victorian hospitals are under 40years-old.

Mr Andrews urged people over 60 years old, who are yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to “immediately book in to receive a jab.”

“The Prime Minister made it very clear that Pfizer will be made available for the 12- to 16-year-olds and anyone over 60 looking for Pfizer will go at the back of the line.”

Mr Andrews repeated that AstraZeneca is an “excellent vaccine” and said, “go to your doctor, seek advice, go to our clinical staff, find out what’s good for you – but the vaccine you get now is the best vaccine for you.

The next phase will be Pfizer for 12- to 16-year-olds. And an army of health workers “dentists, midwives, podiatrists, pharmacists and even medical students” will be given the opportunity to vaccinate Victorians.

“There will be a ‘Year 12 vax blitz’ from 7 to 17 of September where every year 12 student will have to have at least one dose.”

Priority access will be provided to students, with over 50,000 appointments as priority.

Mr Andrews said he agreed with Mr Morrison on “a range of options such as home quarantine for return travellers.”

READ MORE: Vaccine passports: More freedom, but at what cost?

“It is too early to announce, but we are looking at options such as home quarantine and Rapid Antigen Testing, so we can get Australians back home, and Victorians back into the state.”

Neos Kosmos asked the Premier if he had a view on the astonishing testimony by former health minister Jenny Mikakos at the parliamentary inquiry on Thursday, while providing evidence into the closure of catering business, I Cook Foods.

“I have no view on that matter,” he said.

Ms Mikakos said a time would come for Victorians to know “the truth in all matters” and talked about departmental issues.

Taking direct aim at the CHO Brett Suttton, Ms Mikakos said there were “clearly matters that my department officials should have briefed me on”.