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Victorian restrictions finally easing

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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed a major easing of Melbourne’s coronavirus restrictions as a northern suburbs outbreak comes under control.

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Melbourne retail and hospitality businesses can finally reopen amid a major easing of the city’s coronavirus restrictions that will come into effect from midnight on Tuesday.

There will be a maximum of 20 people seated indoors for hospitality venues, with 10 per space, and 50 outdoors.

Beauty, personal services and tattoo parlours will also reopen.

People can also visit other houses with much more freedom, although details will be revealed on Tuesday.

“Fundamentally, this belongs to every single Victorian, every single Victorian who has followed the rules, stayed the course, worked with me and my team, to bring this second wave to an end,” an emotional Premier said.

“But it is not over. This virus is not going away. It is going to continue to be a feature of our lives. It is going to be a feature of our lives every day until a vaccine turns up. These are big steps.”

Andrews also announced the 25km travel limit and the “ring of steel” separating Melbourne from regional Victoria will go on November 8.

The announcement came after Victoria had a clean daily coronavirus sheet for the first time in more than four months, with no deaths or new cases.

Monday’s DHHS figures showed average daily diagnoses over the past fortnight down to 3.6 for Melbourne and seven mystery cases from October 10-23.

The corresponding figures for regional areas are 0.2 and zero.

Equally as important, a testing blitz confirmed an outbreak in the northern suburbs that delayed Monday’s announcement by 24 hours appears to be under control.

Andrews’ daily media conference was delayed until mid-afternoon as the government awaited latest test results from the outbreak area.

More than 5000 tests across the affected area have all come back negative, the Premier confirmed.

Victoria hasn’t reported zero COVID-19 deaths and cases since June 9. Its death toll stands at 817 and the nation’s at 905.

The Victorian government has been under intense pressure to ease restrictions, with federal politicians on both sides of the aisle applying pressure.

The prime minister said yesterday it was profoundly disappointing Andrews had delayed the loosening of lockdown rules.

Scott Morrison issued a joint statement with his treasurer and health minister, who are both Victorian, highlighting the health and economic impacts.

“At some point, you have to move forward and put your public health systems to work,” they said.

“The decision to keep businesses closed suggests that there is still not sufficient confidence within the government that their systems can support reopening.”

Andrews’ federal Labor colleague Bill Shorten said he could understand why many Melburnians were disappointed by the weekend’s delay.

“Many businesses probably would have hoped with some indications that we were going to get more restrictions lifted yesterday,” Shorten told ABC radio.

Shorten criticised the federal government for bagging the state government rather than recognising the good work of Victorians in suppressing the spread of coronavirus.

-AAP

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