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Local News - Victoria

Victoria records 21 new cases of COVID-19 seven deaths


“It is a combination of indoors which is 20 times more dangerous than outdoors. And the length of time you spend.

“There are brief encounters indoors, as you get your takeaway coffee, it is much less of a risk. But if you are indoors for a protracted period of time that is exactly when transmission occurs. People need to be aware of that.”

Since Monday, Victorians living alone have been allowed to visit a ‘bubble buddy’. Regional Victorians can now host up to five visitors from one nominated household.

A cluster of 34 in the city of Casey, thought to be spread by people visiting each other at home, is now under control, Professor Sutton said. He apologised on Saturday after he linked that spread to some members of the Afghan community.

“Members of the community might have felt singled out by statements I made recently. That was absolutely not my intention. So, sorry. It is a country I love and respect. I apologise.”

Premier Daniel Andrews says the low numbers showed the government’s strategy was working – not that Victorians could afford to relax it.

“Those numbers tell a powerful story of what can be achieved when you stay the course,” Mr Andrews said.

“Logic, commonsense, international our own experience shows us that you can’t hope to keep numbers low until you first get them low. That is just an undeniable fact,” he said.

To trigger an easing of lockdown restrictions on September 28, the new cases must average between 30 and 50 over 14 days.

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Thirteen of the new cases are connected to known outbreaks, eight are ‘mystery cases’ from an unknown source.

The last time Victoria recorded a lower number of new daily infections was on June 24, when the state recorded just 20 infections.

That was the beginning of Victoria’s second wave; just a week later, the state would record 75 infections.

Another 11,900 tests were done on Friday, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“To everyone who has got tested, thank you so much. And anyone who has got symptoms, the only thing to do, don’t wait until Monday, don’t wait a moment, go and get tested,” the Premier said.

“There are more than 200 sites, it is a very quick turnaround, 90% of results are back within 24 hours. It is a massive thing that you can do. Simple but so, so important.”

It may not be enough for tens of thousands of elderly Victorians facing a lonely summer as the state’s aged care homes remain in some form of COVID-19 lockdown. Visits from friends and family will be strictly limited well into 2021.

Premier Daniel Andrews said visiting residential aged care will not return to normal until a vaccine becomes available or until a rapid test was developed that could screen visitors as they arrive.

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45 new cases, 4 more deaths


Victoria recorded 45 new coronavirus cases and four deaths on Friday, according to Sky News.

It comes after the state recorded just 28 cases on Thursday, with the average daily case number for metropolitan Melbourne dropping to 44.4, meaning the city is on track to a scheduled easing of restrictions.

Metropolitan Melbourne must reach an average daily case rate of between 30 and 50 cases over the preceding fortnight to trigger an easing of lockdown measures from September 28.

The daily average in regional Victoria on Thursday was 2.9.

Premier Daniel Andrews will front the media later on Friday.



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Victoria records 28 new cases of coronavirus, eight deaths, announces free four year old kindergarten, regional schools to open early


Another eight Victorians have died from the virus, taking the state’s death toll to 745.

Melbourne’s crucial 14-day case average has fallen to 44.4, its lowest level since the height of the second coronavirus wave.

Free kinder to continue

Victorian sessional kindergarten will remain free for most families in the fourth term.
The state government will provide $26.7 million in additional funding for early childhood services set to reopen on October 5.

The government will provide about $500 per enrolled child to community-based, local government and school providers to provide free access to 15 hours of kindergarten per week.

The government will also provide extra funding for cleaning.

“This has been a tough year for all of us – including some of our littlest Victorians. We’ll give some extra help to families and childhood services as our kinder kids [get] back on-site and we take careful steps towards COVID normal,” Mr Andrews said.

Education Minister James Merlino said there would also be additional help for vulnerable children.

Mr Merlino said $4 million would be set aside to help with schooling transition by bringing teachers to kindergartens to engage with children starting school in 2021 as school tours for those children would not be possible this year.

Mr Merlino also confirmed that primary schools in regional Victoria would be able to receive students from October 5 instead of the originally slated start date of October 12, due to regional Victoria’s low numbers.

“They will make a decision about whether they have their preps on the Monday or the great six the Monday but the transition will happen in that first week,” he said.

Mr Merlino said there was no changes to the plans for regional high schools, and no changes from the roadmap plan for metropolitan Melbourne for any schools.

Average down but concern at Casey cluster

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Allen Cheng said a cluster in the Casey local government area – mainly around Hallam and Narre Warren – was of concern for health authorities.

Half of today’s 28 cases are linked to known clusters, including five from Casey.

Professor Cheng said there was a number of different households linked to the Casey cluster.

“There’s a number of households they are but we are looking into that and trying to find out where everyone has been so we can make sure the transmission chains are controlled,” he said.

The 14-day average fell below 50 for the first time since the peak of the second surge in cases on Wednesday to 49.6. In its road map to recovery, the state government said restrictions would only start to ease from the end of September in Melbourne if the 14-day average remained between 30 and 50 cases.

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The state recorded 42 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, but the overall tally of cases only increased by 32 after 10 cases were reclassified due to duplication. Of the new cases reported on Wednesday, 29 were linked to known outbreaks but 13 remain under investigation.

Health officials have added three new locations to the list of high-risk COVID-19 exposure sites in Melbourne.

Anyone who visited Clifton Hill Mitre 10 last Thursday (September 10), Craigieburn Shopping Centre last Friday (September 11) and KFC at Westgate Port Melbourne last Thursday and Friday (September 10 and September 11) is being urged to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they feel unwell.

In regional Victoria, residents can now have visitors to their homes, restaurants and cafes can have seated indoor and outdoor dining, beauty services can reopen and people can gather in groups of 10 outside.

Geelong residents were enjoying brunch at cafes for the first time in weeks on Thursday morning.

Of his area’s new-found freedom, Wharf Shed cafe owner Andrew Clark said: “It tastes fantastic …

“It’s a great day for regional Victoria and for the hospitality industry – we’re open at long last with restrictions,” he told the Today show.

“We have a limit of 20 per venue and an outside limit of 50, but we’re working [with] that.

“We really feel for Melbourne people – we just hope they abide by the rules.”

In an effort to stop Melburnians travelling to regional Victoria, police checkpoints have been beefed-up.

Police and Australian Defence Force personnel were stopping every single car and truck at the Nar Nar Goon checkpoint near Pakenham on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts on Thursday morning.

Melburnians face an almost $5000 fine for trying to travel to the country without a valid reason.

Deputy Commissioner of regional operations Rick Nugent announced the new $4957 fine on Tuesday for “failure to comply with a requirement to remain in a restricted area”.

Mr Nugent added police would check every car towing caravans or boats during the upcoming September school holidays.

The fine will apply to every person found in a group travelling. For example, a couple travelling would each receive a $4957 fine and be sent home.

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28 new cases recorded, eight more deaths


Victoria has recorded 28 new coronavirus infections as daily cases continue to trend downwards.

It’s the lowest number of daily cases in Victoria since 20 infections were recorded on June 24.

It means the average daily case number for metropolitan Melbourne continues to fall and now sits at 44.4, meaning Melbourne is on track for a much-anticipated easing of restrictions.

Metropolitan Melbourne must reach an average daily case rate of between 30 and 50 cases over the preceding fortnight to trigger an easing of lockdown measures from September 28.

The daily average in regional Victoria is 2.9.

The daily average case number is calculated by averaging out the number of new cases over the past 14 days.

There are 83 cases from an unknown source in metropolitan Melbourne, up two from Wednesday, and one case in regional Victoria.

Restrictions eased to stage 2 in regional Victoria overnight, meaning there are now no restrictions on reasons for travel and restaurants and pubs and cafes can reopen for onsite service with safety measures in place.

Melburnians caught trying to flee the city into regional Victoria have been warned they could be fined almost $5000 for leaving the restricted area without a valid reason.

A new offence of failing to comply with the requirement to remain in a restricted area will come into force from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said police would be highly visible and active to prevent Melburnians from entering country Victoria, particularly during school holidays.

“We do not want regional and rural communities to be put at risk by Melbourne metropolitan people,” Mr Nugent said on Wednesday.

The figures were released by the Department of Health and Human Services over Twitter on Thursday morning, with more detail expected later at the Premier’s media conference.

Eight more people have died from the virus, taking the state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 745.

The total number of coronavirus cases recorded in Victoria since the start of the pandemic is about 19,960.

jack.paynter@news.com.au



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Victoria records new 35 cases of COVID-19, seven deaths


Victoria has recorded 35 new cases of coronavirus in the past day and another seven deaths.

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It comes as playgrounds reopened across Melbourne this morning and single people are now allowed to have one visitor in their social bubble, in the first easing of Melbourne’s stage four restrictions today.

On Sunday, the Victorian government announced a $3 billion rescue package for businesses.

For the state to move to step two in the road map out of restrictions, the 14 day average needs to get below 50 by September 28.

The 14 day average was not immediately available.

More to come

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Victoria records 43 new COVID-19 cases, nine deaths


The key crossbench MP who guaranteed the Andrews government’s state of emergency powers wants Melbourne’s curfew lifted, as retail groups lobby for night-time restrictions to be scrapped.

Reason Party upper house MP Fiona Patten believes the curfew should go.

Bourke Street, typically one of Melbourne's busiest streets, has been deserted during the extended lockdown.

Bourke Street, typically one of Melbourne’s busiest streets, has been deserted during the extended lockdown. Credit:Daniel Pockett

“People need to feel we are moving from stage four to like a stage 3.7 and so on as we go through this process. If we can’t travel more than five kilometres and all businesses are shut, what is the problem with someone walking the dog or having a jog in the evening?” she said.

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Premier Daniel Andrews defended the restrictions on Thursday following revelations that neither Victoria Police nor Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton asked for Melburnians to be confined to their homes between 8pm and 5am.

However, a Roy Morgan poll released on Thursday found that 70 per cent of 2325 Victorians surveyed approved of the way Mr Andrews was handling his job as Premier and 63 per cent said the curfew should remain.

More than half the participants said Melbourne residents should now be able to visit immediate family members and 46 per cent said the five-kilometre travel limit should be lifted. More than three-quarters said the government should compensate all small businesses forced to close due to lockdown restrictions.

Push for every Victorian household to get $100 restaurant voucher

Every Victorian household would receive a $100 restaurant voucher under a proposal from the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association to save the hospitality industry.

Households of two or more people would receive a $100 voucher, while singles would receive $50.

The association’s chief executive Wes Lambert is also calling for outdoor dining permits to be fast-tracked and for the state government to give businesses grants to hire or buy outdoor furniture.

“Restaurants and cafes and caterers want to be serving customers, it’s in their blood and their DNA, it’s their life. And the best form of recovery for restaurants is customers,” he said.

“The road map is unworkable and unduly punishes hospitality businesses. It is time for Dan to pay for his plan.”

According to the British government, more than 64 million meals were subsidised as part of its ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme across August.

Melbourne City Council deputy mayor Arron Wood is also floating an online voucher scheme across the CBD, with ratepayers to receive a discount at restaurants and small businesses.

Myer Christmas windows cancelled

For the first time in 64 years, children and families will miss out on Melbourne’s famed Myer Christmas windows.

The Bourke Street Mall spectacle is a staple of the city’s festive season, with more than 1.2 million Australian and international visitors viewing the windows each year.

Children enthralled by the Myer Christmas windows on December 20, 1991

Children enthralled by the Myer Christmas windows on December 20, 1991Credit:Ian Kenins

A spokeswoman for Myer said the department store had been “exploring every possible option” for the windows to go ahead, but the state government’s Sunday road map had made it impossible to proceed.

“With the government’s latest announcements and recommendations we are unfortunately unable to proceed with the windows like we have done in past years,” she said.

The Myer Christmas windows have brought joy to children - and their parents - for decades.

The Myer Christmas windows have brought joy to children – and their parents – for decades.Credit:Dominic O’Brien

The company said it was still working through plans for COVID-safe Christmas shopping inside the store.

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Victoria records 51 new cases of coronavirus, seven more deaths


Victoria has recorded 51 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional seven deaths in the past 24 hours.

The total number of deaths in Victoria since the start of the pandemic has grown to 701.

The cases come after 63, 41, 55, and 76 cases in the past four days.

Meanwhile the Victorian Health Department has begun publishing exposure sites where people may have been exposed to COVID-19. People who visited the locations on the listed dates are advised to monitor symptoms and get tested if they feel any symptoms.



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Victoria records 76 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths


The average is a key figure in the government’s decision-making for its road map to ease restrictions in Victoria. The state’s timeline for reopening is tied to it meeting certain targets.

The 14-day average needs to get to between 30-50 by September 28, for the state to move to step two in the road map.

The figures come as the Victorian Government moves to a NSW-style contact tracing system.

One of the researchers who developed the modelling underpinning the state government’s reopening plan said on Tuesday morning the predictions were based on a “blunt model” that did not consider localised data.

Dr Jason Thompson, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, confirmed a report in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald that the model used outdated assumptions about the state’s contact tracing performance.

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“We shouldn’t overstate the reliance on this model for decisions that will be made in the future,” he said.

Dr Thompson said the model assumed 25 per cent of infected people would be contacted within 24 hours. He confirmed the model did not account for where the bulk of cases in the state were appearing, for example in aged care and healthcare settings.

“It doesn’t talk about those sorts of specifics and but they are things the Victorian Health Department can also take into account,” he said on ABC Radio National.

“We had a very blunt model which took into account advice we had from the Victorian Health Department.

“What we’re trying to explain is the dangers and the risks of rebounding into a third wave.”

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue’s coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348.

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Victoria records 41 new coronavirus cases, nine deaths



The new cases come as the Victorian government defends its road map out of stage four restrictions.



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Victoria records 63 new cases and five deaths, as state awaits Premier Daniel Andrew’s roadmap to recovery


The Andrews government will announce its plan to ease restrictions later on Sunday. It is expected to announce an extension of stage four after it released modelling on Saturday showing another lockdown was likely before Christmas if restrictions were eased with case numbers are their current level.

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Mr Andrews released research by the government and its partners Melbourne University and the University of New England that modelled 1000 different scenarios and found Victoria was unlikely to have suppressed the virus by mid-September.

It found that if restrictions were eased when the average number of new daily cases was above 25 for a fortnight, there was a 60 per cent chance of returning to lockdown before Christmas. The average number of daily cases over the past week has been 84

On Saturday night, health authorities announced viral fragments of coronavirus had been detected in wastewater taken from a sewer network at Apollo Bay in south-western Victoria.

The findings prompted a warning from Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton for those living in Apollo Bay and nearby communities, who have even very mild symptoms of coronavirus, to get tested and isolate while they wait for their results.

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Professor Sutton said while the preliminary result may not mean there are currently active cases of COVID-19 in the Apollo Bay community, the Department of Health and Human Services has stepped up testing.

He stressed while the result may not signify any current cases and could represent virus shed from people who had travelled through the coastal from neighbouring areas, it has provided an opportunity to increase testing and minimise potential transmission.

“Until we have a highly effective and available vaccine, early detection and prevention are the keys to combating coronavirus,” Professor Sutton said.

“Wastewater testing provides an additional and complementary tool to the existing public health response and can provide early warning that coronavirus is in a community before traditional testing methods.

“Finding cases early can help our disease detectives track the spread of the virus and implement strategies to minimise transmission preventing hotspots or clusters before they have time to develop.”

The department is analysing sewage for fragments of coronavirus at sites across Victoria as part of a national research program.

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