Australia

Some restrictions to ease as Victoria records no coronavirus deaths for the first time in over two months

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: AAP

As the number of coronavirus infections continue to fall across the state, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced regional Victoria will move into the third stage of the COVID-19 roadmap out of restrictions from Thursday.

Victoria has recorded its first day without a coronavirus death in more than two months, as regional areas prepare to move into the third stage of easing restrictions. 

The last day the state recorded no COVID-19 deaths was 13 July, with the daily death toll peaking in August with new 25 fatalities. The national death toll from the virus is 816, with 729 of those in Victoria. 

The positive news came as the state recorded 42 cases in the past 24 hours, up slightly from the 35 reported on Monday, the lowest daily tally since 26 June.

The number of cases with an unknown source, however, is down to 83, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday. Almost 820 Victorians remain in hospital with the virus, including 11 in intensive care. 

"The trend is very much with us," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday. 

Metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day rolling average is now 52.9 cases per day. The next target for easing coronavirus restrictions in the state is an average daily case rate of 30 to 50 cases over a fortnight by 28 September.

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews announced that regional Victoria would move into the third step of the state's roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions from Thursday as the 14-day average case rate dropped to 3.6.

Under this step, residents will be able to leave the house for any reason and travel an unlimited distance, hospitality businesses will be permitted to reopen for eat-in dining, and outdoor public gatherings will be increased to 10 people.

Five visitors will also be allowed to visit a home, all retail, including hairdressers, will reopen, and outdoor non-contact sport for adults and all community sport for children can resume.

Some restrictions will still apply to hospitality businesses, however, including mandatory table service, two-hour limits on bookings, a 10-person cap per space in indoor venues, subject to the one to four square metre density rule, and a 50-person limit for seated outdoor venues adhering to the same social distancing rule.

For larger venues, this means they will be able to accommodate a maximum of 70 patrons at any one time. 

"'I'm not for a moment pretending that many wouldn't like that number to be much higher. But this is a big step, a very, very big step today," Mr Andrews said.

"And one that can strike that balance between more economic activity, more money in the till, more people back at work, but not risking having to close down again."

Restrictions in Melbourne were eased slightly on Monday, with the curfew reduced to 9pm to 5am, the allowed exercise time doubled to two hours and the introduction of "household bubbles" for people who live alone. Playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment have also reopened.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 9pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. 

Between 5am and 9pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’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. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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