Melburnians have been delivered some good news on Tuesday, with a date set to reveal the state’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed Victoria’s long-awaited map will be unveiled on Sunday, giving residents a timeline for further freedoms.
“We’ll have more to say about schools, more to say about social gatherings, more to say about the economy and all its different sectors on Sunday,” Mr Andrews said on Tuesday.
“I’m not necessarily promising that everything can be open when people want it to be open, which was yesterday.
“We’ve got to follow the health advice, otherwise we will crash our health system and give our nurses an impossible task and see many thousands of people very, very ill.”
Mr Andrews said the play, which will outline rules to last until November, will rely on Burnett Institute modelling of vaccination and hospitalisation rates.
“There will be quite a few footnotes at the bottom of it and it will be subject to how many people are in hospital and all sorts of things,” he said.
“But it’s about giving people a clear sense of what we’re working towards.”
It comes as Victorian cases remain high, with another 445 local infections on Tuesday. There were also two more fatalities, bringing its toll from the current outbreak to six.
Rules have already been relaxed across most of country Victoria, with only greater Shepparton under the same measures as Melbourne.
The region has had no new COVID cases since Saturday.
Melburnians already know they will get an extra hour of outdoor activity and their five-kilometre travel radius will be expanded to 10 kilometres when 70 per cent of eligible Victorians have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
This is expected on Friday.
Pet grooming is also allowed from Tuesday for all animals, as long as it’s outdoors, contactless and conducted solo.
Even the most dedicated parents may be pleased to note that packing lunch boxes is also on the cards, after Deputy Premier James Merlino confirmed to state parliament later on Tuesday that a back-to-school plan will feature in Sunday’s announcements.
‘Extraordinarily sad’ COVID death
But Tuesday’s hopeful news came with more tragedy, as a man in his 20s became one of the state’s latest COVID-19 victims.
Department of Health deputy secretary Kate Matson said authorities were unaware the man had the virus before he died at his Hume home, in Melbourne’s north, on Monday.
It is not yet known if he had underlying health conditions or whether he was vaccinated.
“The death of the gentleman in his 20s is extraordinarily sad,” Ms Matson said.
“We are aware he died of COVID due to post-mortem analysis. He wasn’t a case we were aware of.”
Tuesday’s other death was a woman in her 80s from Brimbank, in Melbourne’s west. She died at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The deaths bring Victoria’s toll from the latest outbreak to six and the overall toll since the start of the pandemic to 826.
There are 158 people in Victorian hospitals with COVID-19 on Tuesday, with 45 of those in intensive care, including 23 on ventilators to breathe.
One person in hospital is fully vaccinated. The remaining 91 per cent are unvaccinated and 8 per cent are partially vaccinated.
Some 129 of the state’s 445 cases were linked to known outbreaks and 74 per cent were in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. There are 3799 active cases across Victoria.
Ms Matson implored Victorians who live or work in 10 postcodes of concern in Melbourne’s north and west to “get tested at your first sign of symptoms”.
Meanwhile, the Victorian government announced it will spend another $22 million on mental health, including establishing pop-up clinics across the state.