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Victoria records zero new coronavirus cases as Melbourne prepares to open

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Victoria has recorded no new cases of coronavirus hours before a series of restrictions are slashed across Melbourne – as alpine resort operators hit out at a Covid rule change they claim could ruin their ski season for a third year running.

The state’s health officials confirmed only one additional infection in hotel quarantine from 25,635 tests carried out overnight. 

Masks will no longer be mandatory outdoors as of Thursday night in Melbourne as the spread of the deadly virus in the Victorian capital continues to slow.  

Melbourne is emerging from lockdown though a day after health authorities in New South Wales found two local cases of the virus in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Victoria’s ski-field operators meanwhile have hit out at a new rule meaning resort goers need a negative Covid-19 test result before hitting the slopes.

A traffic controller helps a person with a QR code at a pop-up Covid-19 testing facility outside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art complex in Melbourne. Victoria has recorded no new cases of coronavirus hours before a series of restrictions are slashed across the city

From 11.59pm on Thursday night, Melbourne’s five million residents will no longer need to wear masks outdoors and can move freely within Victoria as the rule preventing them from travelling more than 25km away from their home is scrapped.

Masks will remain mandatory indoors, though will only be required outdoors when social distancing is not possible.  

Anyone who wants to head to the slopes in Victoria must prove they have had a negative Covid test 72 hours before leaving, including children as young as three.  

Falls Creek Chamber of Commerce president Lisa Logan questioned why ski resorts were being subjected to the controversial rule, which she said could have a ‘hugely devastating effect’ on businesses through the school holidays.

‘We are absolutely being victimised by all of this when it’s not required for any other destination,’ she said, according to the Herald Sun.

Melburnians - including kids aged three and above - must provide a negative Covid test 72 hours before hitting the ski slopes. Operators say the 'devastating' rule could kill their season

Melburnians – including kids aged three and above – must provide a negative Covid test 72 hours before hitting the ski slopes. Operators say the ‘devastating’ rule could kill their season

‘Literally before I even knew the news, people were cancelling their bookings.

‘The fact that Thredbo and Perisher (in NSW) have been able to operate is like rubbing salt in the wounds. They’re treating us like children.’ 

Victoria’s ski season was cancelled last year as the state went into lockdown to combat a coronavirus outbreak, and severely impacted by bushfires during 2019.

Melbourne's Covid restrictions will be relaxed from 11.59pm on Thursday night

Melbourne’s Covid restrictions will be relaxed from 11.59pm on Thursday night 

In regional Victoria, the home visit cap will increase to five adults plus their dependents per day, while up to 50 people can gather outdoors.

Mr Merlino said restrictions will ease further in a week’s time if COVID-19 cases continue to remain low.

Covid rules relaxed for Melbourne and Victoria

Melbourne:

25km travel bubble axed

Two adult household visitors allowed

Gatherings outside in groups of 20

Masks mandatory indoors

Gyms reopened and pub limits increased

Victoria: 

 Five adult household visitors allowed

Gatherings outside in groups of 50

Anyone visiting ski slopes must provide negative Covid test 72 hours before arriving – including children aged three and above 

 

‘We have to ease in a way that is safe, and we are making positive progress’ he told reporters on Wednesday.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there still may be undetected cases in the community and urged people not to slacken off on following rules.

‘It’s really tough. This is 16 months into a pandemic. There is no question that people are over this,’ he said.

Professor Sutton said authorities would have to balance the ongoing need for masks in high-risk indoor settings over winter against fatigue.

‘We don’t want people to be fatigued by mask-wearing and basically not doing it,’ he said.

Victoria recorded five new local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, including two cases linked to a Southbank townhouse complex announced on Tuesday.

Two of the three other new cases are close contacts of people within the Kings Park Apartment Complex who previously tested positive for the virus.

It brings the total number of cases at the complex to eight, including an infant.

The other new case is a nurse at Epping Private Hospital, where three COVID-positive Arcare Maidstone aged care residents were previously transferred.

COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said the nurse had received at least her first dose of the vaccine and may have been infectious during at least one of two shifts this month.

In regional Victoria, the home visit cap will increase to five adults plus their dependents per day, while up to 50 people can gather outdoors

In regional Victoria, the home visit cap will increase to five adults plus their dependents per day, while up to 50 people can gather outdoors

Nine Epping Private staff members have been told to quarantine for a fortnight, while others have been tested and will need to return a negative result before they can work again.

The nurse also worked at the Northern Hospital on June 11 and 12, and so far 22 staff at that hospital have been told to quarantine.

The health department said all other staff in the Northern Hospital’s affected area are being tested.

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