Victoria recorded 42 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with eight deaths in the state. Yesterday, the state had the same figures but no deaths.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that the figures will “continue to fall if we all stay the course and as they continue to fall, we’ll have more options”.
Tonight, restrictions across regional Victoria will ease. From 11.59pm lockdown will be lifted in regional areas and outdoor gathering limits will increase to 10 people and up to five people will be able to visit from a nominated household.
The government warned Melburnians not to rush to regions as there would be extra policing at checkpoints, however this did not stop queues from creating at checkpoints. Premier Andrews said that police would be working at checkpoints to ensure there were adequate controls. He said this would be challenging “but nowhere near as challenging as this getting away from us again in regional Victoria. Because people went to regional Victoria from metropolitan Melbourne Melbourne, had no lawful reason to do it, and took the virus with them,” he said.
“Whether you want to call it a ring of steel or a border or whatever the term, the key thing is simple – only those who have to go to regional Victoria and have a lawful reason to go to regional Victoria can go to regional Victoria and the feedback I get from very small country towns to big regional centres is they’d love to have visitors but they love being virus-free a lot more. There will be a time for travel,” he said.
“There will be a time for tourism to get back on its feet, Melbourne out into the regions and vice versa. That is not now. And Victoria police will have significant announcements to make in just a short time.”
Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said that Melburnians would be able to access medical treatment across the metro-regional divide in order to get to regional hospitals.
“We’re going to be working very closely with regional health services to try and limit the amount of trips that health care workers, in particular surgeons, are making to regional Victoria, to try and manage their surgical lists in such a way that they’re not making regular trips to regional Victoria,” she said.
“So if they can try and concentrate their surgery over a number of days, or a week even, so they can stay in regional Victoria, do the surgery and then travel back to Melbourne, that just reduces the risk of people taking the virus from Melbourne into regional communities.”
Ms Mikakos said that there are a “significant number of aged care residents” among the 107 Victorians who are in hospital diagnosed with COVID-19.