Melbourne hits key virus case milestone

Melbourne will remain stuck in its stage-four coronavirus restrictions until September 28, despite hitting a key roadmap milestone.

The city’s 14-day new case average fell below 50 on Wednesday for the first time, to 49.6.

Average new cases must sit in the 30-50 bracket before the government will consider easing Melbourne’s restrictions and, under the roadmap, that is scheduled for September 28.


Premier Daniel Andrews said it would take a lot more than one good statistic.

“The fact that we are in the 30-to-50 band should be a point of pride, absolutely,” he said on Wednesday.

“But we are making an assessment, not today … but for a decent period, for a significant period.”

He said factors behind each case had to be considered when weighing up whether to ease restrictions.

Victoria’s coronavirus respite has been brief, with eight deaths taking the state toll to 737 and the national figure to 824.

Tuesday was the first day Victoria had been fatality-free in its second wave since July 13.

Among the latest fatalities, four women and two men were in their 80s and two men were in their 90s. All are aged care-related.

But there was more good news, with the premier announcing that elective surgery would start to resume.

Elective surgery had been largely on hold because of the state’s second wave.

Regional Victoria will go up from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of usual surgeries from Wednesday as part of eased restrictions, while Melbourne is likely to go to 75 per cent from September 28.

“We plan to have approximately 18,750 additional elective surgeries across private and public hospitals in October, and an extra 10,500 surgeries across those settings in November,” the premier said.

Victoria’s total active cases have hit a milestone, dropping below 1000 to 991.

“That is very, very significant – it’s been a long time since we’ve had less than 1000 active cases,” Mr Andrews said.

Regional Victoria’s new case average also fell again to 3.5.

The 14-day rolling average is a key statistic in the state government’s roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions.

Victoria had 42 new cases on Wednesday, the same as Tuesday.

Regional Victoria’s restrictions will ease at midnight, but Melbourne will stay in its stage-four lockdown.

Authorities are ramping up roadblocks, creating the so-called “ring of steel” around the city to ensure city residents do not try to take advantage of the eased regional measures.

Mr Andrews has warned motorists travelling out of the city to expect longer wait times as police tighten checkpoints.

Victoria Police are expected to give more details about the tightened traffic restrictions on Wednesday afternoon.

Melbourne’s lockdown rules remain unchanged and people cannot travel out of the city without specific reasons.

The next step for regional Victoria means pubs, cafes and restaurants will be able to serve people outside with strict density quotas, while outdoor gathering limits will be upped to 10.

Regional Victorians will also be able to leave their homes without restriction and all shops can reopen.

© AAP 2020