Millions of Melbournians will finally be let out of lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday, with the five reasons to leave home being scrapped.
Despite Victoria recording just one new COVID-19 case in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, many strict restrictions will remain, such as mandatory masks indoors and no visitors to homes.
The single infection was traced to existing cases and had already been in precautionary quarantine, meaning they are unlikely to have infected others.
Acting Premier James Merlino on Wednesday said metropolitan Melbourne will move to ‘most of the same settings’ currently in place across regional Victoria.
‘That means the five reasons to leave home will no longer apply in metropolitan Melbourne,’ he said.
The existing 10 kilometre limit will be increased to 25km, meaning the only reasons to go further than 25km will be for work, education, caregiving or getting a vaccination.
Victoria has recorded just one new Covid case as Melbourne prepares for the end of lockdown on Friday with a new set of eased restrictions
‘Travel into regional Victoria still remains a no go for now. We are also still not in a position to be able to have visitors in our homes, but outdoor gatherings will be increased to a maximum of 10 people,’ Mr Merlino said.
Schools will be able to resume face-to-face learning from Friday.
Masks will no longer be required outdoors, but remain mandatory inside and when shopping, in offices or on public transport.
Restaurants and cafes can reopen for seated service with up to 100 people per venue and a maximum of 50 inside.
Retail can reopen in line with density limits of one person per four square metres.
In regional Victoria, from 11:59pm on Thursday night, public gatherings will be increased to 20 people.
Restaurants and cafes can open to a maximum of 150 in the venue for seated service, including up to 75 allowed indoors.
Funerals will be limited to 75 people, while weddings will be limited to 20.
Victorian tracers were currently working on the case of a man in his 40s, who returned from Sri Lanka on May 8 and was now considered to be the likely original source of the Delta strain that spread across Melbourne.
Genomic sequencing showed his infection was identical to one of two families linked to the North Melbourne Primary School, which has emerged as the epicentre of the West Melbourne outbreak.
Tracers were trying to establish the link between the man and that outbreak, with no obvious breach of infection prevention control protocols.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said there were four main theories, including that the man transmitted the virus to a staff member while in transit or to a fellow guest inside one of the hotels.
NEW RULES FOR MELBOURNE AND VICTORIA FROM FRIDAY 00.01
– Stay-at-home order ended, so people can leave home for any reason
– 25km travel limit to stop travel to regional Victoria
– Outdoor gatherings capped at 10 people, with still no visitors in homes
– Schools to reopen for face-to-face learning
– Masks no longer needed outdoors but must be worn inside
– Funerals capped at 50 people and weddings at 10
– Restaurants and cafes to reopen for 100 people maximum outside and 50 people inside
– Retail shops can reopen with a one person per four square metre density limit
– Hair and beauty will reopen but masks must be worn
– Community sport is allowed, and auction can happen with 50 people outdoors
– Offices capped a 25 per cent capacity
– Two adults allowed to visit another home, with children not included in the cap
– Public gatherings capped at 20 people
– Restaurants and cafes can have 150 people seated outdoors or 75 indoors
– Religious ceremonies capped at 150 people or 75 indoors, with funerals at 75 and weddings at 20
– Offices capped at 50 per cent capacity
It may have then entered the community.
Emma Cassar, the head of COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria, said the man also mistakenly opened his room door soon after entering hotel quarantine, but she did not believe the incident was responsible for the virus escaping.
Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus in 2020 was sparked by leaks in hotel quarantine.
It led to a major overhaul of the hotel quarantine system after Melbourne spent 112 days in lockdown.
‘You just wonder has the government really learned anything from the mistakes that were made last year,’ Mr O’Brien said.
The revamped program restarted in December, only for it to be paused in February as a leak from the Holiday Inn grew to nearly 25 cases and triggered a three-day lockdown.
Last week, Victoria secured federal government support to construct a purpose-built quarantine facility in the state despite the ongoing rollout of vaccines which was meant to preclude the need for quarantine.
There are 83 active cases of Covid across the state, but only three requiring hospital treatment and none in intensive care.
Some 28,485 Victorians were tested on Tuesday and 19,533 received a vaccine dose at state-run sites.
The government was locked in ‘positive’ discussions with health officials on Tuesday night about plans to lift the lockdown. The details will be finalised on Wednesday
The ‘Delta’ Covid strain outbreak in West Melbourne has been linked to a man who stayed at the Holiday Inn (pictured) in May
Meanwhile, the absence of Premier Dan Andrews continues to hang over Victorians after he suffered five broken ribs and a fractured T7 vertebrae after falling on ‘wet and slippery’ stairs at a holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne on March 9.
Media experts have told Daily Mail Australia it was more than likely Mr Andrews had embarked on an extended break in a tactical play to rebuild his image to Victorians, who had him earmarked as a ‘control freak’.
‘The problem is they let him sit on the sidelines too long, and now it’s come back to bite them,’ a source said.
Word of Mr Andrews’ injury had quickly spread throughout Melbourne’s media, but the intel was light on to say the least.
The Premier’s office was bombarded with inquiries, which fueled speculation something massive had transpired.
It took the Premier’s media team a good six hours to go public with the fall.
Mr Andrews was later transferred to the intensive care unit at The Alfred hospital.
Suddenly, a man Victorians had seen on their screens for 120 days straight during the second lockdown, was gone.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (right) and his wife Catherine Andrews. They had been staying in Sorrento when the Premier took a spill
Daniel Andrews in a tweet on April 18. It was the last time anyone saw him until this week
Photographers who even tried to get close to the Premier were chased-off by his massive security force.
The rumour mill went into overdrive.
Why had Mr Andrews been on the Mornington Peninsula and with whom had he been with?
The name of trucking magnate Lindsay Fox was instantly linked to the fall.
Just a week before the accident, Mr Andrews had been forced to defend his relationship with the billionaire amid accusations he had been given preferential treatment over a proposal to build a quarantine facility at Avalon Airport.
The Premier has a close personal relationship with Lindsay Fox’s son, Andrew Fox, who is responsible for Linfox’s airport and property arms.