Hepburn has nearly reached the 80% target for double vaccinations. Nearly 95% of adults have had a first shot and close to 75% have had two. It’s likely the local community will reach around the 95% level by early to mid November. This is a great collective achievement in preparation for COVID normal.

Understandably, most of the emphasis at the moment is on the joys of coming out of lockdown. But with COVID normal comes choices.

Europe is bit ahead of us and their experience suggests that Victoria can expect between 500-1000 cases per day once we open up with sensible public health limits. It’s likely as we open up we will have 200 or 300 people in hospital with COVID at any one time and about 1-5 deaths per day.

But each country is a bit different. The COVID rates are higher in the UK and lower in Scandinavian countries.

We will have to see what happens in Victoria and locally over the next 3 or 4 months, particularly because Daylesford will have many visitors when Melbourne opens up.

Everyone now knows that unvaccinated people are more likely to catch and pass on COVID and they are much more likely to be hospitalised and die.

That doesn’t mean vaccination completely eliminates risk, but it massively reduces it. So what else is it sensible to do?

Clearly, everyone has to make their own judgements about how serious COVID is for them. Being over 80 with underlying health conditions that compromise your immune system is different from being a healthy fit 30 year old. But even so, sadly, healthy 30 year olds have occasionally died and a number have developed on going symptoms (long COVID).

In addition to vaccination, for most people managing risk will mean hand hygiene, social distancing, and early testing if symptoms emerge. Plus deciding who to associate with and what events and venues to attend.

Already the evidence is that most people want to know that the people they associate with at work, school, social events, concerts, shops and so on are fully vaccinated and that there is good checking, cleaning and ventilation.

Add to vaccination, the three ‘Cs’ of virus transmission: crowded places, close personal contact and confined spaces with poor ventilation. The three ‘Cs’ plus low levels of vaccination are the most risky situations.

Schools, health and aged care services, businesses and community organisations are now in the throes of sorting out the changes they have to make for safety in a COVID normal world.

Deciding who to see at home, where most close contacts occur, is more of a challenge. We may have to learn to ask impolite questions about the risks our family and friends bring into the house, and ask ourselves if we are putting the people we care about at risk.

Everyone will have to make their own judgements about the venues they will be happy to attend, who they are happy to have at home, and the people they are happy to associate with. The less risk you are happy with, the more you will want to avoid crowded, unventilated spaces and unvaccinated people.

A prudent approach is to be cautious for the next few months until the Victorian and local experience with COVID is clear.