Australia

Two more COVID cases as Vic awaits eased restrictions

Another day of single-figure COVID-19 diagnoses, and no deaths, has Victorians keenly awaiting news of easing lifestyle restrictions.

The state reported two new cases on Sunday and a rolling daily case count of 7.5 in metropolitan Melbourne for the fortnight up to Saturday. Regional Victoria’s two-week average is 0.5.

The statistics mean Victoria’s coronavirus death count remains at 816 and the national toll is 904.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to reveal significant changes to Melbourne’s restrictions on movement and gatherings on Sunday.

The announcement will not change mandatory mask wearing whenever Victorians leave their home.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt has urged the Victorian government to ease restrictions in line with NSW.

“The epidemiological conditions for a COVID-safe reopening of hospitality, movement (and) family reunions among others, have now been firmly met,” Mr Hunt posted on Twitter on Saturday.

“Victoria should now be able to move to the next step in line (with) NSW.”

However Mr Andrews said Mr Hunt was not an epidemiologist and accused him of “playing games”, before adding that he would not be rushed in reopening Victoria.

“We are not going to risk everything that Victorians have sacrificed. And that’s why this strategy is not about racing to open up (and) running to COVID-normal – it’s about safe and steady steps,” the premier said.

“We are right on the edge now of defeating this second wave. It’s not occurred in many countries, if any, across the world.”

Melbourne residents are subject to restrictions including a two-hour daily outdoor exercise window within 5km of home, and no more than five people from two households can gather outside.

Mr Andrews has confirmed Sunday’s announcements will be “much more in the social space than in the economic space”, dashing the hopes of those in retail and hospitality industries.

Health authorities continue to investigate Victoria’s 15 cases for the fortnight up to Thursday which have no known source.

-AAP




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