Victoria’s fifth lockdown will end at 11.59pm tonight with the 5km travel limit scrapped, schools returning to face-to-face learning, and hospitality, retailers and gyms reopening.
Under the new rules, restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs will be restricted by a density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm, as well as harsh patron caps being finalised tomorrow morning.
Hairdressers and beauticians will also be permitted to operate, while workers will be able to return to the office – at a maximum 25 per cent of capacity or 10 people, whichever is greater.
Groups in public will be limited to only 10 people.
But masks will remain mandatory both indoors and outside, with the requirement to wear them inside expected to continue for a long time.
There are currently 190 active cases of Covid-19 in Victoria after the state recorded 11 cases yesterday.
Despite the imminent loosening of restrictions, Victorian Covid-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar has indicated that health authorities will still need 10 more days to run the outbreak into the ground.
“You are always going to worry when you have  active cases in the community, the largest number we have had since September last year,” he told reporters on Monday afternoon.
“There is a difference between getting your arms around an outbreak and getting it under control. We have seen good control over the past three days, but there is still residual ongoing work for us to manage and that will take us another 10 days or so as we get to the end of all those exposure sites.”
There are still 365 venues listed on the Department of Health’s website as having had exposure to coronavirus in the past month.
There also about 21,000 primary close contacts across Victoria completing their isolation period.
Victorians need to have a clearance confirmed in writing by the health department, usually by email, along with a negative test on day 13 to be released from quarantine.
“That is a significant number of people you have got to support and enable within the wider community,” Weimar said.
Victoria has now recorded 180 cases linked to the two outbreaks that jumped the border from Sydney’s Delta outbreak – one from a team of Sydney removalists that transited through the state and the other a family who returned to Melbourne’s north from a NSW red zone.
There are also lingering concerns about an anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne over the weekend becoming a Covid-19 super spreader event.
The rally was one of about nine held across the country as anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protesters declared a “worldwide rally for freedom” on Saturday.
Victorian police acted before the protest even took place with officers arresting multiple people for not wearing a mask and failing to show their ID.
About 5000 people took to the streets, chanting, waving flags and halting trams and traffic.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said he was “beyond disappointed” at the protests and urged people to rethink their motives to protest amid a global pandemic.
“Please be on the side of humanity, not the side of the virus,” he said.
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