Restrictions to slowly ease


By Jessica Micallef

Active COVID-19 cases have dropped beneath 10 in Hume as the state government prepares to further relax restrictions in Melbourne this Sunday.

Hume – which was one of the municipalities hit hardest by the virus – had just nine active cases as of October 11, while there were no active virus cases in the Macedon Ranges.

The metropolitan 14-day average was 9.9 as of Monday, while the average in regional Victoria was 0.4. Melbourne now has less than a week to get the average to five new cases per day and fewer than five mystery cases over a 14-day period.

Premier Daniel Andrews warned it was unlikely Melbourne would be able to take “as big a step as we would hope” on Sunday, but insisted the eased restrictions would be “significant”.

“The exact nature of those we’ll determine throughout the week and right up until Saturday night,” he said.

“A whole lot of outdoor activities is on the table. And we’ll also spend quite a bit of time thinking about what’s a safe group size for people outside to be able to join each other and to be part of the thing that we crave the most, and that’s some of the connections that we have had to go without for such a long period of time.

“That’s where we’re headed and they’re the things we’ll look at carefully.”

It comes as the state government introduced a new rule requiring close contacts to be tested for coronavirus on day 11 of their quarantine.

If they refuse, they will have to spend a total of 24 days in quarantine. The government also introduced a requirement for businesses in regional Victoria to check customers are not from metropolitan Melbourne before allowing them to dine in. Businesses who fail to check customers’ addresses face fines of up to $9913.