BALLARAT COVID UPDATE, Wednesday, September 22
NEW CASES: 0
ACTIVE CASES: 18
UPDATE, 12PM: Ballarat will end its seven-day lockdown at midnight tonight (Wednesday).
Deputy premier James Merlino made the announcement on Wednesday morning, declaring health authorities were confident they had a clear picture of the COVID outbreak in the city.
There were no new cases in Ballarat recorded on Tuesday, from the 11 new cases in regional Victoria.
"The public health team feel they have the outbreak contained and thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the residents who came out in droves to get tested and followed lockdown rules," he said.
"My thanks to the entire community of Ballarat."
Ballarat will return to the same settings as the remainder of regional Victoria.
The Department of Health and Human Services also confirmed a GovHub worker from Melbourne is believed to have brought the virus to Ballarat, passing it on to a Ballarat-based worker at the building.
Newington Primary School has become linked to two active COVID-19 cases with staff and families called on to limit their movement while the health department investigates further.
Importantly, the cases are not newly confirmed cases.
In a letter from the school to parents, which The Courier has confirmed with the Victorian Education Department, anyone who visited the school on Thursday, September 16 must stay home until advised otherwise.
This was the first day of Ballarat's return to lockdown with only children of essential workers permitted to on-site learning.
See where all the new and active cases are here.
The school, on Inkerman Street, is working to contact affected families.
The ages of the cases are also unconfirmed at this stage.
Also announced today were new rules surrounding vaccinations in schools.
Victorian teachers and childcare workers will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to work.
Education Minister James Merlino on Wednesday announced all staff at schools and childcare services will need to have their first jab by October 18 or have a booking within a week of that date.
They will need to be fully vaccinated by November 29.
All government school staff will be entitled to half a day of paid time off to get vaccinated.
"Anyone who works on-site at schools or early childhood settings, they will not be able to work on site if they are not vaccinated," Mr Merlino told reporters.
He said a survey of 33,000 teachers found 75 per cent were already fully vaccinated.
Year 12 students will be the first to return to face-to-face learning on October 5, with a staggered return of other years starting with prep to year 2 on October 18.
The remaining year levels will be able to return on October 26 but only year 7 and year 11s will be able to attend five days a week.
The government will spend $190 million to make sure schools are properly ventilated by the start of term four, including the rollout of 51,000 ventilators.
Some $60 million will be spent on installing shade sails at 2149 schools to create more outdoor learning spaces.
A Ventilation Technical Advisory Panel will be established to undertake further risk assessments of other environments including early childhood settings and youth justice facilities.
You can see the full announcement about schools below.
EARLIER, 9AM: Victoria has recorded 628 new COVID cases, as Ballarat waits for news on tonight's scheduled end of lockdown.
There were also three deaths recorded.
The daily morning update no longer includes data on how many cases are classified as mystery cases.
There were 60,829 tests processed and 43,056 Victorians received a vaccine dose at state-run hubs.
An update on Ballarat's confirmed cases, as well as the city's lockdown situation, will take place later today.
Reported yesterday: 628 new local cases and 0 cases acquired overseas.— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 21, 2021
- 43,056 vaccines administered
- 60,829 test results received
- Sadly, 3 people with COVID-19 have died
More later: https://t.co/OCCFTAtS1P#COVID19Vic#COVID19VicDatapic.twitter.com/BI9ZhSm22a
In Ballarat, there was just one new case confirmed on Tuesday, a Govhub employee who is suspected to have caught the virus off a Melbourne-based worker.
Ballarat's seven-day lockdown is forecast to end at 11.59pm tonight, although it could be extended if authorities are not yet confident they have a clear picture about the virus.
The Courier tried to get answers from the health department yesterday but did not receive a response.
Ballarat's lockdown situation was also not mentioned in the daily press conference in Melbourne, leaving its residents unaware of the plans as the hours ticked down.
Meanwhile, protesters are being warned to stay home as Melbourne braces for its third day of demonstrations over mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and other restrictions for the construction industry.
Chaos has engulfed the city centre over the past two days as demonstrators, mostly men dressed in hi-vis workwear, took to the streets voicing their distrust in the vaccine and anger at the government.
The violent mob of hundreds of people brought the city and the West Gate Bridge to a standstill on Tuesday, and at one stage police fired rubber bullets and smoke rounds to keep them under control.
Victoria Police arrested 62 protesters, some for assaulting police, but most for breaching public health orders.
"I implore you to stay home," Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said on Tuesday night.
"Our tactics tomorrow will be different."
See all the exposure sites here.
It is not clear if demonstrators are all union members, with CFMEU Victorian construction secretary John Setka blaming "neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists" for hijacking the event.
He urged construction workers to stay at home.
"My advice to them would be to not take part in the protest today. It's been hijacked by extremist groups and it's not our values," he told the ABC on Wednesday.
Premier Daniel Andrews and other unions have labelled the protest as selfish.
"There is no excuse for the terrible behaviour we have seen in our city over the last two days," Mr Andrews said in a statement on Tuesday night.
"Acts of violence and disruption won't result in one less case of COVID - in fact, it only helps the virus to spread."
The ambulance union pleaded with protesters to think of others.
"The fight against COVID-19 is not in the street. For our health workers the fight is very real, very exhausting, very painful and very dangerous," the union said in a statement on Tuesday night.
"You are thinking of yourself only. There has never been a more important time to match the selflessness of health workers, with your own."
The state government has shut down the construction industry for two weeks in metropolitan Melbourne, City of Ballarat, City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire.
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