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Victoria eases coronavirus restrictions after recording zero new Covid-19 cases

Melissa Davey
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Mark Stewart/AAP</span>
Photograph: Mark Stewart/AAP

The Queensland border has been reopened to greater Melbourne after the region was declared a hotspot on 13 February following a Covid-19 outbreak at the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel in the city.

It means travellers can enter Queensland without a border pass or quarantining, with Victoria recording no new cases of community transmitted coronavirus on Saturday as restrictions were again eased.

Masks are only required in Victoria on public transport, in ride share vehicles and taxis, in sensitive settings such as aged care facilities, and in some larger retail settings including indoor shopping centres, supermarkets, department stores and indoor markets. Victorians can also host up to 30 people in their home a day, and outdoor gatherings in public places have increased to 100 people.

Related: The great unknown: do Covid vaccines stop you spreading the virus?

In New South Wales, no new locally acquired cases were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm Friday, marking the 41st consecutive day without a locally acquired case. People in the state woke to further restriction eases on Saturday: people are now allowed to dance at weddings and host gatherings of 50 people at their homes.

Five major vaccination hubs and 99 satellite sites will be rolled out across NSW starting from 15 March, premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Saturday – Newcastle, Wollongong, Wagga Wagga, Coffs Harbour and Dubbo. These locations will send doses to the smaller vaccine centres.

“NSW is on track to achieve its goal of more than 35,000 vaccinations in the first three weeks with thousands of frontline workers already receiving their first doses,” Berejiklian said.

The federal foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, and the health minister, Greg Hunt, became the second and third federal politicians to receive the vaccine on Saturday. Labor MP Peta Murphy was the first, after receiving the vaccine on Thursday because she has breast cancer and is immunocompromised.

Payne said she was pleased to show her support for the scientific expertise behind the safe and effective vaccines.

“It was also a privilege to join Peta Murphy MP in showing the confidence of women leaders and representatives in the vaccination process this week,” Payne said.

“The timing of the vaccination will also help facilitate possible international travel in the near future so we can continue to prosecute vital national interests with our international partners.”

The vaccination program in Australia began on Monday, with about 60,000 Pfizer/BioNTech doses being administered initially to priority populations. Groups including quarantine and border workers, and aged care residents will be vaccinated by April.

All Australians will be offered a vaccine by the end of October.