3.9k Share this
Masks will remain mandatory as authorities try to ensure Victoria has gotten its latest surge of virus under control.
The restrictions eased at 11.59pm on Thursday, a week after it was initially hoped the state would be on top of the outbreak.
The four new locally acquired cases, revealed by Acting Premier James Merlino on Thursday, are from the same household in Reservoir, in Melbourne’s north, and investigations into the source of the infections are underway.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said they were not close contacts of known infections.
“They’re not identified as close contacts, none of them has given a history of being at an exposure site,” Professor Cheng said.
“The first man, a man in his 80s, was tested on June 8 and got his result (on Wednesday). The other members of the household tested positive (on Wednesday) as well.
“We’ve already tested several close contacts of these cases outside of the household and they’ve all come back negative but obviously will remain in quarantine.”
“These new cases are really the strongest reminder that we are, by no means, out of the woods yet,” he said.
“Over the last fortnight, there have been very limited opportunities for people to transmit infection during lockdown, and obviously what I am anxious about is whoever gave the infection to both these groups is identified quickly and doesn’t have the opportunity to transmit to other people.”
Mr Merlino said wearing masks outdoors was a small but effective price to pay.
“We are used to it, we know it works, and as we come out of this period and lockdown, while we are driving these new cases to ground, I think it is a logical and common-sense step to take,” he said.
“This is a small price to pay to make sure that we can proceed with this careful easing out of lockdown.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Kelly congratulated Victoria for their successful handling of the latest coronavirus outbreak and said the state’s hotspot status would be lifted.
“I have made the decision that the hotspot, that designation should be removed at midnight tonight, the same as the Victoria lockdown changes,” he said.
Professor Kelly said this means the COVID-19 disaster payments on offer to affected Victorians would end as well but noted further support measures would continue.
“Any other assistance the Victorian government has at this time in relation to personal protective equipment, for example, will still be provided and will continue for another two weeks but the hotspot designation will end tonight at midnight,” he said.
More than 23,000 people came forward to be tested in Victoria on Wednesday.
The lifting of the lockdown means the five reasons to leave home no longer apply.
Private household gatherings are still prohibited, but public gatherings up to 10 people outdoors will be allowed, hospitality and retail sectors will reopen and students will return to schools.
It comes as interstate health authorities race to prevent coronavirus outbreaks after a COVID-positive woman and her husband drove from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast via New South Wales.
Her husband has since also tested positive.
Nearly 30 new COVID-19 exposure sites have been added to Victoria’s list, including multiple days and times for aged care home Arcare Maidstone.
Coles Bundoora Square has been marked as a Tier Two site after a person shopped at the supermarket while potentially infectious.
Marco Fine Food & Groceries at Reservoir Central has been listed as a Tier One site requiring anyone who attended at the time to isolate for 14 days and get tested.