Further restrictions could ease sooner in regional Victoria: Premier

Michelle Slater

Premier Daniel Andrews is not setting any definitive dates for opening up the state but has not ruled out easing some further restrictions in regional Victoria as COVID-19 cases remain low.

This comes as 11 news cases were detected in the state overnight including one new case from Kilmore, raising the regional average to half a case a day.

Just under 2370 tests were carried out in regional Victoria yesterday, with more wastewater testing sites being rolled out across the state.

A new less intrusive saliva test is also about to be be trialed at more high risk industries including fish and poultry processors and abattoirs.

Mr Andrews said he initially hoped restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria could be lifted at the same time.

“If Melbourne is more stubborn than we thought, then we will give very detailed consideration to regional Victoria perhaps taking some further small steps so we can continue to have activity and jobs and a sense of recovery in regional Victoria,” Mr Andrews said.

“We wont have regional Victoria held back by the same challenges in metro Melbourne.

“But this will not be today, and it’s not something for next week, it’s something under constant review – the data will drive that.”

Mr Andrews said masks would still be required for Victorians, pointing to the benefits they provided even for short periods of contact.

“I know the weather is getting warmer and it will be challenging, if we can refine [wearing masks] we will be open to doing so, but I will be holding out on this,” he said.

“I think masks are serving a very useful purpose, the cost benefit is low compared with the benefits of not having a super spreading events setting us back.”

Mr Andrews also warned Victorians that hefty fines still applied to those breaking the ring of steel around Melbourne.

He pointed to Kilmore outbreak which was caused by a legitimate traveler from Melbourne who unknowingly carried the virus with them into the regions.

“Regional Victorians travelling into metro Melbourne can just as easily take the virus back with them,” Mr Andrews said.

“The virus doesn’t discriminate between postcodes, it will infect you just as easily if you are travelling into or out of Melbourne.”