Melbourne restrictions ease


VICTORIA’S roadmap out of lockdown is progressing ahead of schedule, with Premier Daniel Andrews announcing several changes to the plan for metropolitan Melbourne.

With only five new cases of COVID-19 confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS, yesterday, the 14-day average of new case numbers is now at 20.3.

Mr Andrews announced Melbourne could move to the third step of the plan, joining country Victoria, earlier than expected if the 14-day average dropped to below five by October 19.

Among other changes for metropolitan Melbourne announced on Sunday were the lifting of the 9pm to 5am curfew, the scrapping of the restriction allowing only one member of a household to make a shopping trip each day and an increase in face-to-face medical care for non-urgent cases.

Real estate industry leaders have also celebrated the reinstatement of private property inspections.

All primary school and VCE students in years 11 and 12 will return to onsite learning from October 12, while apprentices and university students in their final year of study will be able to attend onsite for learning and assessment where necessary.

There are still only four reasons for people to leave their houses, although some changes have been made. People can leave the house to shop for: food and essential items; exercise with up to five people from a maximum of two households outdoors inside a five-kilometre radius; permitted work and education, including taking children to school; and caregiving or seeking medical treatment.

Mr Andrews said the easing of restrictions ahead of schedule was due to the commitment and sacrifice of Victorians.

“We are further ahead than we’d hoped for. The latest modelling shows that our strategy is working,” he said.

“Not only have we been able to drive down cases from the hundreds – we’re well on-track to hit single digits in the next few weeks. That allows us to make some small, but significant changes.

“Firstly, our move to the third and last steps will no longer be defined by dates in the calendar. Instead, the ‘trigger point’ for review by our public health team will be based solely on reaching our case number targets.

“That means the sooner we hit those targets, the sooner we can consider our next steps.”

Regional Victoria, including Macedon Ranges Shire and Mitchell Shire, will not be able to progress beyond step three of the roadmap until metropolitan Melbourne enters step three.

As of yesterday Mitchell Shire had only one active case of COVID-19, while there were two active cases in Macedon Ranges Shire.

Whittlesea currently has 13 active cases, the fewest active cases in the region since late June.

Whittlesea peaked at 563 active cases on August 10.