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Melbourne ‘on track’ for easing of restrictions as Victoria records 28 new coronavirus cases, three deaths

Victoria has had three coronavirus deaths, while new cases jumped on Tuesday to 28.

The latest fatalities take the state toll to 766 and the national figure to 854.

The new cases are a significant spike on Monday’s 11, the lowest Victorian figure since 16 June.

But the crucial 14-day rolling average of new cases for Melbourne has continued to fall to 32.8, while it is holding at 1.6 for regional areas.

Melbourne’s average has to be between 30-50 for some of its stage four lockdown provisions to be eased next Monday.

“That is absolutely on track for us to be able to take a step on the 28th,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Cases with an unknown source from September 6-19 are 45 for Melbourne and none for regional Victoria.

The premier also announced that three of the five suburban contact tracing units first announced on September 8 would be in operation over the next few days.

They will be based in the west, northeast and southeast of the city.

The state government also has announced $30 million in upgrades for Victoria’s public aged care sector, with the money to be spent on 33 regional facilities and 17 in Melbourne.

It comes as a recent Newspoll found Premier Daniel Andrews’ handling of the second COVID-19 outbreak had the backing of a majority of Victorians, with nearly two-thirds of Australian voters rating the state’s lockdown as “about right.”

The poll for The Australian shows 62 per cent of Victorian voters agree the premier has managed the crisis well, despite a hotel quarantine bungle that unleashed a second wave of the virus.

Some 35 per cent of Victorians thought Mr Andrews handled the pandemic badly, according to the poll published on Tuesday.

Asked how Mr Andrews was handling his job, 62 per cent of voters were satistifed and 35 per cent were dissatisfied for a net satisfaction score of 27 per cent.

The figures come as pressure continues to mount on the premier to speed up his COVID-19 roadmap.

But the premier has yet to confirm whether Melbourne will move to its next step on Monday, which will allow a staged return to school for some students and more workplaces to reopen.

“We will have more to say about that process later in the week,” Mr Andrews said.

WATCH: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews celebrates downward trend in COVID-19 restrictions

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said Melburnians can’t afford to wait until 26 October when more onerous rules such as the 9pm-5am curfew are due to be repealed.

“These numbers dictate a faster, safer reopening,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The epidemiologists back it, the modelling backs it. Daniel Andrews needs to start listening to the experts and stop being a one-man show.”

It came as the premier claimed fining people in the Casey cluster ultimately could have cost Victoria billions of dollars.

Mr Andrews continues to defend the decision not to issue any fines over the 43-case outbreak in Melbourne’s outer southeast.

It emerged last week that some people involved in the cluster had breached lockdown rules by travelling more than 5km from home and visiting other households.

That should have meant a $1652 fine but health officials opted to withhold the penalty to aid contact tracing efforts. 

It is also unclear when five suburban contact tracing teams will be operational in Melbourne.

The premier announced the contact tracing boost on 8 September but on Monday was unable to say when they would start.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 9pm and 5am.

During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.

Between 5am and 9pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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