Victoria has confirmed 35 COVID-19 cases and seven deaths in the lowest new infections noted in the state in almost 12 weeks.
The national death toll sits at 817, with 730 of the fatalities in Victoria. There are currently 1,075 active cases in Victoria, and just 47 active cases are in regional areas which are now under stage 3 restrictions.
“We have gone from 725 cases to now down into the 30s. That is a mighty effort,” Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said.
From today, Melburnians have some new freedoms. Children can now go back to playgrounds and people are allowed out of their homes for an extra hour per day. Two people can also meet outdoors for purposes of recreation.
In the planned opening of restaurants later down the track, Victoria is set to turn roads and footpaths into dining areas.
“What we know, if you look at places like New York, where they have been able to get their hospitality sector back to something approaching normal, faster than what would otherwise have been the case because they have used the footpath – curb-side parking and taken public space and turned it into pop-up cafes, restaurants, bars,” Premier Andrews said.
“That is what we will do. We will change the way the city operates and the suburbs and regional cities.”
Businesses will share spaces with others located nearby and this will be funded with $5,000. “We are confident there will be a significant amount of work can be done with that money,” Premier Andrews said. “We are always open to listening to industry if there is a particular precinct that requires further money than that.”
Venues will not be expected to cover the costs of bollards aimed at improving public space.
“We think that there is an opportunity here to have many more patrons seated, drinking and dining, therefore turnover for those businesses and we think these grants are targeted, they are what is needed,” Premier Andrews said.
“This won’t just be a feature of this summer, it will be there for the long term which is a good thing.”
On Sunday grants were announced for sole traders. Victoria’s Jobs and Precincts Minister Martin Pakula was present at Monday’s press conference to discuss the support for businesses – the largest ever which the state has seen.
“The first of those I want to go to is a $100m of support for sole traders, those hardest hit by restriction,” Mr Pakula said.
“That will apply to the sole traders who are tenants or licensees in a commercial premises or location and who will be closed, heavily restricted or restricted under the second step. They will be grants of $3,000. We think that will support around 33,000 sole traders across the state.”
Premier Andrews said that the city will look different this summer with outdoor seating areas. He said it was too soon to say what arrangements would be made for large sporting events, such as the Australian Open.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said that “baby steps” are being taken to open up the city.
“These small steps are the ones that will continue to keep us safe and keep us on a steady pathway,” he said. ” I know how keen everyone is to get to a different place but you only need small numbers.”