As the statewide COVID-19 numbers decrease, regional Victoria’s lockdown has eased with the relaxing of some restrictions. Regional Victoria took its first steps out of lockdown on Monday, with small changes to the rules across the state allowing for more social interaction and more time outside.
As of Monday 14th September, the start time of Melbourne’s curfew will be pushed back from 8 pm to 9 pm, the daily outdoor exercise limit increased from one hour to two. It can include social interaction with another individual. Playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment will reopen, whilst libraries will be accessible for contactless collection and delivery. Melburnians living alone will also be able to visit one other person in a “singles bubble”. Regional Victoria is one step ahead in its recovery efforts, and presently five people from two different households can gather together outdoors. Religious services can also be held outside with a cap of five people (plus a faith leader).
Statewide, case numbers continue to improve recording (in the last 24 hours) 41 new cases of COVID-19 and six others reclassified, taking the net increase of infections to 35 and the total to 19,835. The death toll has increased to 723 with seven more Victorians losing their lives. However, the number of active cases fell 94 to 1,075, while the 14-day average daily case number has dropped below 60 in Melbourne and is just above 4 in regional Victoria. Of the currently active cases, 1,019 are located in Melbourne, which is currently under Stage 4 restrictions. In regional local government where restrictions are at Stage 3, there are 47 active cases, with no new cases in regional Victoria.
“I’m so proud of Victorians for the way we are all working together to beat this virus it means we can take our first safe and steady steps towards a COVID Normal tonight,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday. “What we’ve seen in regional Victoria should give hope to all Victorians. If we all play our part, we can drive numbers down and get through this together.
Adding to the positive news of lower infection rates and lockdown easing, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas also unveiled a $3 billion coronavirus rescue package for businesses, the single biggest package of its kind in the history of the state of Victoria. Taking the total government support for business to $6 billion, this will see business owners benefit from tax relief, cash grants, and cash flow support.
Victorian business owners will welcome the latest cash injection from the premier. Still, with many operators only just holding on, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said more must be done to help owners in this period of uncertainty, such as breaking free from leases without shouldering the financial cost themselves: “the government should look at picking up some of those costs because it’s not the businesses’ fault they can’t reopen, but the government saying [that].”