Vaccine passport trial kicks off in regional Victoria as state records 1612 new COVID-19 cases, eight deaths

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Victoria has recorded 1612 new local coronavirus cases and eight deaths as a vaccine passport trial starts in six regional Victorian towns.

The latest case numbers came from more than 73,138 COVID-19 tests, a drop from Sunday’s 1889 cases and Saturday’s record caseload of 1965 cases.

Reece Tuohey, owner of Body Fit Training Bendigo, will take part in the vaccine passport trials.

At least 34,279 people rolled up their sleeves to receive a jab in state-run vaccination hubs on Sunday.

Victoria currently has 19,012 active cases of COVID-19.

The vaccine passport trial is set to be a key test of the state’s preparedness to live under “COVID-normal” and starts with just 14 businesses in six regional local government areas.

The trial will be a precursor to the system set to roll out across the state once 80 per cent of the eligible population has received two coronavirus jabs. Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday that the state was expected to hit that target about November 5.

Customers will be required to show proof of vaccination using the Service Victoria app on their smartphone.

The businesses involved in the initial passport trial include hotels, cafés, cinemas, a gym, a church, and a beauty clinic. They are spread across the local government areas of the Bass Coast, Warrnambool, Buloke Shire, Greater Bendigo, Pyrenees Shire and East Gippsland.

Body Fit Training Bendigo owner Reece Tuohey said the trial would provide an indication of how life could once again return to something more familiar after the massive disruption caused by lockdowns.

“It’s the closest it’s felt to normal in the past few months and a sense of what the new normal will look like,” he said.

The business will continue to run classes outdoors for people who have not yet had a chance to be vaccinated. But it will now be able to accommodate 24 customers inside and 12 outside.

Mr Tuohey said the new system would allow customers to check in and confirm their vaccination status at the same time.

Victorian officials announced on Sunday that the passport trial’s success will pave the way for a crowd of 10,000 at the Melbourne Cup, where there are likely to be four entry zones for fans and one exclusively for racing participants.

The 10,000 fully vaccinated fans will be allowed to attend Flemington on the first Tuesday of November, regardless of whether the state has reached the 80 per cent double-dosed threshold. However, if the 80 per cent target has not been hit, the 10,000 fans must live within 25 kilometres of the racecourse.

The Cup normally attracts up to 100,000 fans, but Victorian Racing Club chairman Neil Wilson said his team was delighted and “we think that’s a great number”.

The vaccine passport trial will also include a concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on October 30 with thousands of fans, subject to approval from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

Meanwhile, Victorian health authorities identified more schools as COVID-19 exposure sites late on Sunday evening.

Woodend Primary School in the Macedon Ranges was declared a tier-1 or close contact exposure site between 8.45am and 4pm on Tuesday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 6.

Queen of Peace Parish Primary School at Altona Meadows was declared tier-1 on Tuesday, October 5 between 8.30am and 4pm.

Virtual School Victoria at Thornbury was declared a close contact site between 7am and 12pm and then 4.30pm and 9pm on both Tuesday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 6.

Anyone who attended the schools during those timeframes has to immediately get tested for COVID-19, and quarantine for 14 days from the exposure site, unless advised otherwise by the Department of Health.

With Benjamin Preiss, Damien Ractliffe, and Roy Ward

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