Regional Victoria restrictions eased

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino gave an important COVID-19 update today. file photograph

Regional Victorians will be granted eased COVID-19 restrictions as of 11:59pm tomorrow night, while the Greater Melbourne area will remain in stage 3 lockdown for a further seven days.

Acting Premier James Merlino said the government will closely monitor confirmed cases and close contacts to confirm the changes can go ahead as planned.

“With no community transmission in regional Victoria this week, regional restrictions are proposed to begin easing from 11:59pm tomorrow night. We’ll use the next 24 hours to continue tracing and testing and confirm that this change can go ahead.” Mr Merlino said.

If the easing is to go ahead, restrictions faced by Regional Victorians will see the five reasons to leave the house revoked and the scaled back re-opening of key industry.

Mr Merlino explained the changes that will take place for Regional Victoria.

“The five reasons to leave home will be removed and there will no limit on the distance you can travel from home, you can only travel to Melbourne for a permitted reason and you must follow Melbourne restrictions once you are there,” he said.

“Businesses open in regional Victoria that are closed in metropolitan Melbourne must check the ID of every customer they serve.

“This is a variant of the virus which is quicker and more contagious than ever before, we’ve got to run this to the ground because if we don’t people will die.”

For Regional Victoria, students from all year levels can return to face-to-face learning at school, and early learning centres, childcare, kinder and family day care facilities can all reopen.

Food and hospitality will be open for seated service only with a cap of 50 people per venue subject to density requirements of one per four square metres.

Face masks still must be worn indoors except if at home, while outdoors they are required only if 1.5 metre social distancing cannot be maintained.

Public gatherings of up to ten people are allowed but private gatherings are still not permitted with the intimate partner/single bubble still in place.

Community sport can return for Juniors this weekend, while adults can return to training.

Mr Merlino also announced effected businesses will receive further funding support.

“Businesses most impacted by the extension of these public health restrictions including operators in hospitality, retail, events and create industries will receive further support, the government is adding a further $209 million on top of the $250 million package announced on Sunday.”

There have been six locally acquired cases in the past 24 hours taking the state’s tally to 60 active cases.

There are growing concerns for parts of New South Wales after a person from Melbourne travelled to several areas of the state prior to the circuit breaker lockdown announcement while possibly infectious.

Since the first part of the circuit breaker lockdown was announced last Thursday, Victorians have been getting tested in droves with a record 56,624 COVID-19 tests taken on Saturday.