Premier Daniel Andrews has given the greatest hint to date that regional Victoria might not necessarily have to wait for Melbourne to advance to the 'fourth step' of the COVID-19 recovery plan.
When unveiled little more than a week ago, the COVID roadmap showed in order to advance from the third step to the fourht step, the entire state would need to be without a new case for a day.
It stated "there will need to be no new cases throughout the whole state of Victoria" for 14 days in order to advance.
It also said this step would not occur before November 23rd; 69 days away from now.
However, today Mr Andrews indicated there might be some leniency with this rule, especially for the regions.
He said since the rule was made based on evidence weeks ago, the situation could always change.
"We'll be guided by the actual performance on the ground, the actual number of cases," Mr Andrews said.
"It's a constantly evolving thing, but I do stress the point, numbers are important, as is narrative of how they got it and if it is properly contained.
"We always reserve the right to make sure commonsense drives us. It's a constantly evolving thing.
"I know everybody would like to go from one step, to the next, to the next within days, but you can't do that because you don't know the impact of what decisions you've made."
There has not been a new case confirmed in the regions for four days in a row and there are just 43 active cases.
However, deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng said he still expected more cases to emerge in regional Victoria.
"There will be more cases in regional Victoria, today is a day we can say it's safe to start relaxing restrictions, but the price of that is we need to continue to be vigilant," Professor Cheng said.
Under the 'fourth step', life would be opened up far more than the new 'third step' restrictions that were announced today.
The biggest rule changes will include:
- Public gatherings: up to 50 people outdoors.
- Visitors to the home: up to 20 visitors at a time
- Hospitality: indoor (group limit of 20 and seated service, cap 50 patrons), outdoor dining subject to density quotient
- Retail: all open.
- No exercise restrictions. facilities open subject to safety measures. Organised contacts sports resume for all ages. Limitations for spectators.
- Weddings: allowed with 50 people (including the couple, two witnesses and celebrant), 20 in a private residence.
- Funerals: allowed with 50 people (not including infants under 12 months of age or people required to conduct the funeral), 20 in a private residence.
- Religion: public worship (not including private ceremonies e.g. baptism, bat mitzvah) can resume in outdoor and indoor settings subject to density quotient.
Speaking on Tuesday, Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison said there were genuine concerns around the regions having to wait for Melbourne.
"I've raised this on many occasions, the concerns I am hearing from local businesses , saying if we reach the expectation of a target for the final step, why can't we make the move to it?" she said.
"What we need to do is ensure everyone is safe. And while metropolitan Melbourne still has high case numbers, our community is still vulnerable.
"We need to wait until Metro Melbourne's numbers are where they need to be because we are only 110 kilometres from Melbourne."
Member for Buninyong Michaela Settle said it remained of utmost important to continue listening to medical advice.
"I think we would both agree that the advice of the chief health officer, is really the person we all need to listen to," she said.
"I know that they are going to continue to look at the numbers and the dates and the times. Nothing is set in stone."
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