Victoria records four new coronavirus cases and one death as restrictions ease

Melburnians can now travel 25km from home, spend more time outdoors and go to the hairdresser after some COVID-19 restrictions were eased.

A group of men are seen lined up outside a barbershop as they wait to get their haircut on 19 October, 2020 in Melbourne.

A group of men are seen lined up outside a barbershop as they wait to get their haircut on 19 October, 2020 in Melbourne. Source: Getty

Victoria has recorded four new coronavirus cases and one death, bringing the state's toll from the virus to 817 and the national figure to 905.

It's the sixth day in a row the state has recorded an increase in new cases in the single digits.

The figures, confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday, bring Melbourne's 14-day rolling average down to 7.2.

Regional Victoria's two-week case average remains at 0.5.

There are 15 cases for the fortnight up to Friday which have no known source.

It comes as Victorians woke to more freedom on Monday after COVID-19 restrictions were eased overnight.

Melburnians are now allowed to travel 25km from home and there will be no limit on time spent outdoors.

Outdoor gatherings will also increase from five people to 10 from two households, while facilities such as skate parks, golf courses and tennis courts will reopen.

Melburnians will also be able to get a haircut, see an allied health professional, renovate their home, wash their car and bid at an auction, though a number of strict safety protocols will be in place.

"I have announced today what is safe but will not undermine the sacrifice, the hard work, the pain, the amazing efforts that Victorians have put in," Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

The 14-day rolling average of daily cases in Melbourne fell slightly to 7.2 on Monday, Victorian health authorities said, but the number of mystery cases remained steady with 15 recorded over the two weeks to 16 October. 

In regional Victoria, up to two people plus dependents will be allowed to visit homes once a day, while hospitality venues can increase their capacity to 70 people outside and 40 people inside.

The "ring of steel" that separates metropolitan Melbourne from regional Victoria will remain in place.

Melbourne will take another step on 2 November, with hospitality venues be able to seat 50 people outside and 20 people inside, while retail and beauty and personal care services can resume.

People will be allowed to host a maximum of two people plus dependents at their homes once a day.

Mr Andrews, however, indicated the next step could be brought forward, depending on case numbers across Victoria in the next week.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg addresses media on arrival ahead of Budget 2020 at Parliament House.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Source: AAP

On Monday, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg came out swinging at Daniel Andrews over the cautious pace of easing of coronavirus restrictions in Victoria.

He accused Mr Andrews of making it up as he goes and demonstrating a callous indifference towards small business owners.

"The bloody-mindedness is unforgivable," Mr Frydenberg said on Monday.

"There's been a callous indifference in Victoria from the government to the loss of jobs and to the plight of small business."

Mr Frydenberg warned 1000 jobs would be lost each and every day the state remained in lockdown.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said it was an "an inexplicable and unacceptable delay".

"There is no sound reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with case numbers clearly on a downward trajectory," she said in a statement.

The Australian Industry Group's Victorian head Tim Piper said businesses and Victorians expected more.

"There is still no long-term coherent plan to rebuild a shattered Victorian economy," Mr Piper said.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said restrictions should have been eased further, especially with respect to small businesses.

Victoria recorded two new coronavirus cases on Sunday - its fifth consecutive day in the single digits - and no deaths.

The state's death toll from the virus 816 and the national figure is 904.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction's restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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4 min read
Published 19 October 2020 at 5:34am
Source: AAP, SBS