Victoria’s latest COVID-19 challenge is far from over, despite the end of the Melbourne lockdown and the further easing of regional restrictions.
As the relaxed rules came into effect at midnight on Thursday, health authorities were trying to work out how four members of a Melbourne family with no known links to current outbreaks tested positive for the virus.
Victorian health officials had started interviewing a couple late on Thursday after they travelled through NSW to Queensland and tested positive, sparking health alerts in those states.
The government eased restrictions at 11.59pm on Thursday, after a two-week stint in isolation for people in Melbourne.
Those outside of Melbourne had their restrictions eased a week earlier.
On Thursday, Acting Premier James Merlino confirmed that Victoria’s capital was leaving lockdown in the dust, but some restrictions remain while others haven’t been removed entirely.
Melburnians must still wear masks in outdoor settings. They also can’t have household gatherings and must stay within 25km of their home.
It comes as health authorities detected four new cases in a house in Reservoir, but it remains a mystery as to how the family acquired the virus.
Merlino said on Thursday there was a “small” change to Melbourne’s road map out of lockdown.
“I can confirm that the easing of restrictions that we announced yesterday will proceed as planned with one small exception for Melbourne,” he explained.
“Masks will continue to be required to be on outdoors in all circumstances.”
As well as masks, other restrictions remain in place.
Home gatherings are banned and outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people.
Schools can reopen for face-to-face learning from Friday.
Hospitality will start to trade again with restaurants and cafes allowed a maximum of 100 people per venue and a maximum of 50 inside.
Gyms, amusement parks, dance studios and nightclubs are still closed under the new restrictions.
Hairdressers and beauty therapy can restart where masks can be worn and community sport can return.
50 mourners can attend funerals while weddings are limited to 10 people.
Offices will be able to return with 25 per cent capacity, but Merlino encouraged working from home where possible.
The easing of restrictions comes just in time, with Melburnians able to celebrate the long weekend after a tough two weeks.
It is the Queen’s birthday on June 14, creating a nationwide public holiday on Monday.
Restriction changes in Regional Victoria
Regional Victoria has been experiencing a taste of freedom for a while, with its lockdown ending on the same day metropolitan Melbourne’s was extended.
They are now allowed two adults visitors to their homes each day, plus dependents.
Public gatherings can include up to 20 people and hospitality can move to 150 per venue for seated service, with 75 people indoors.
Religious ceremonies are capped at 150 and weddings at 20 people.
Despite the lockdown ending, authorities warned they could be right back to where they started.
The four new cases detected on Thursday prompted the mask rules to be extended, over fears that there are mystery case in the community.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said: “We know that masks are effective and is a small thing we can do to help prevent infection as everything starts to move.”
Victoria’s four new COVID cases are all from the same household at a home in Reservoir, but health authorities are still not sure where they contracted it from.
They are a man in his 80s, a woman in her 70s, a man in his 50s and a man in his 20s.