Melbourne will take its first small steps out of lockdown on Friday, as the Victorian government resists calls from business for a “snapback” to an open economy sooner.
The city’s lockdown will end at 11:59pm on Thursday and Melburnians will be able to leave their house more freely, but must remain within a 25-kilometre radius of their home.
Outdoor gatherings will be allowed with up to 10 people but home visits will remain barred.
While limited indoor dining will return at restaurants, gyms and other indoor sports settings will remain closed for at least another week.
The announcement about easing restrictions came as Victoria recorded one new locally acquired COVID-19 case on Tuesday.
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley said the case was directly linked to Stratton Finance at Port Melbourne, and the person had been quarantining during their infectious period.
The new case was detected among 28,485 test results on Tuesday, as 19,533 vaccination doses were administered at state-run hubs.
Acting Premier James Merlino said the plan was to further ease restrictions again from 11:59pm on Thursday, June 17, and end the metro-regional divide.
“This is a good day, everyone should be absolutely proud of what we’ve all achieved together,” he said.
“Subject to the public health advice, the epidemiological conditions through the next week, we expect next Thursday night, the regional-metro divisions will come down and we’ll be able to travel more freely around the state again.”
News of the change in restrictions came as a Victorian woman, who travelled from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, tested positive for COVID-19.
The woman left Victoria while the lockdown was in place.
Among the other announcements today, there will be a further $8.3 million in business grants to help those sectors which are not yet allowed to reopen, including gyms, dance studios and amusement parks.
The government will also make QR check-in compulsory at all workplaces “with very limited exceptions”.
“Previously, it’s only been mandatory for customer-facing businesses, but through this outbreak we have seen a number of cases occur in office settings so we want to take the next step on this,” Mr Merlino said.
The mandatory workplace QR check-in is expected to be introduced from Thursday next week.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was important to get back to zero cases.
“This started with one case in Wollert that has led to almost 100 cases over a period of a few weeks,” he said.
Business community complains Victoria is ‘crawling out’ of lockdown
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s chief executive Paul Guerra said while eased restrictions were welcome, it was “not the snapback we were hoping for”.
“We went fast in [to lockdown], but we are crawling out,” he said.
“While most businesses across the state can now open, we need to see further easing of restrictions to enable all businesses to get back to viable trade as soon as possible to keep jobs, businesses, livelihoods, culture and prosperity alive in Victoria.”