DIGEST

Informer: When caution outweighs excitement

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: Morgan Hancock
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: Morgan Hancock

In the days leading up to NSW's 'Freedom Day' earlier this month, there was an aura of hope and happiness in the air.

It was something to celebrate - and it seemed like the rest of the country was cheering (or watching warily) alongside New South Welsh folk.

Well, Victoria's long-awaited 'Freedom Day' is tomorrow and the vibes are distinctly different.

Given this is the state's sixth lockdown, maybe some people think celebrating it might jinx it?

Maybe some Victorians aren't convinced that this lockdown will be their last. And after more than 240 days in lockdown over the past two years, who could blame them?

There are also very valid concerns of growing COVID-19 cases and deaths as the state recorded another 2232 cases and 12 deaths today.

It certainly doesn't help that Victoria's acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie said "thousands more cases" would emerge as the city reopens.

Victoria already holds the record for the highest case numbers in the country. But now that 70 per cent of its residents aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, the state will reopen at midnight tonight.

Come thousands of more cases, or high water.

Then there's the issue of constantly changing rules for Victorian business owners.

The state's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar initially stated that there was "no wriggle room" for staff who won't be fully vaccinated by tomorrow - despite only bringing forward the jab deadline earlier this week.

"We would expect the people that are now being asked to please come back into work are the first ones to have got themselves organised to get themselves fully vaccinated so that they can serve their customers," he said.

However, the state government "scrambled" to clarify the vaccination mandate for hospitality, retail and hair and beauty staff after business owners flagged concerns that many of their staff would not be able to be fully vaccinated before tomorrow.

The shortened timeline left business owners reeling after spending the past week taking bookings and ordering stock - thankfully, they'll be able to open as planned, with some conditions in place.

Phew!

Victoria's 'vaccinated economy' is also locked in place for the foreseeable future, with Premier Dan Andrews saying that unvaccinated people would not receive the same freedoms until "well" into 2022.

Despite all of this, the reopening of the state means that people can get back to work, families can reunite and the recovery process can begin.

And I am sure there will be more than a few Victorians who are ready and raring to celebrate the end of yet another long lockdown.

In NSW, former Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be called before ICAC next week along with former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, with whom she shared a secret relationship.

The corruption inquiry has already been told a project being pushed by Mr Maguire was determined to be not worth funding. Still, public servants revised their assessment at the former premier's request.

So no doubt all eyes will be on ICAC this time next week.

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