Melbourne and Victoria’s regions were reunited after coronavirus restrictions eased at 6pm last night, ahead of the state hitting its 80% full vaccination target this weekend weekend.
Masks are no longer mandatory outside and non-essential retail and gyms are reopening, with crowds to test the state’s Covid-19 vaccination check-in system today.
A crowd of 5,500 is expected through the gates of Flemington Racecourse for Derby Day today, marking the start of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival.
Later, in the heart of the city, almost 4,000 music fans will gather for a concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and performances from Baker Boy, Amyl and the Sniffers, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Other smaller outdoor gigs affiliated with the Play on Victoria series will also be held across regional Victoria over the weekend.
Victoria recorded 1,656 cases on Friday and 10 deaths as it was announced its daily Covid health briefings would end. NSW recorded 268 cases and two deaths, while the ACT recorded 10 local cases.
More than 6,000 Covid cases have been reported in Indigenous Australians, Senate estimates was told on Friday. Just half of Indigenous Australians aged over 16 are fully vaccinated.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, arrived in Italy on Friday night for a G20 meeting. Morrison told reporters Australia had “started the way back” in repairing diplomatic ties with France after a phone call with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on Thursday. The call followed Australia scrapping a $90bn submarine deal with Naval Group in favour of an agreement with the US and UK on nuclear-powered subs.
US president Joe Biden met with Marcron at France’s Vatican embassy in Rome on Friday and acknowledged that the announcement of a security and technology pact that blindsided France was a “clumsy” episode handled with a lack of grace.
Thousands of Victorian households are still without power after wild storms battered parts of the state.
Yesterday the news was dominated by former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian’s appearance before Icac, in which she said she still wouldn’t have disclosed her close personal relationship with Daryl Maguire to her ministerial colleagues if she had her time again. Among the revelations was confirmation she secured more than $100m for a hospital in Maguire’s Wagga Wagga electorate.