There are fears a new coronavirus cluster is emerging at a McDonald’s in Melbourne’s north, where six workers have been confirmed with the infection.
McDonald’s has warned the number of ill employees could rise as more test results come back for the 92 employees at the Fawkner fast-food outlet.
The restaurant at the centre of the outbreak has been reopened following a deep clean. It is being staffed by workers from surrounding outlets.
“Today’s increase in cases illustrates once again that while we have been flattening the curve, our battle against COVID-19 is far from over,” Victorian chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said.
“Victorians have done a remarkable job so far sticking to the coronavirus restrictions and staying at home has saved lives. But now is not the time for complacency.”
The state also had three more coronavirus infections connected to the Cedar Meats abattoir in Melbourne’s west on Wednesday. That cluster accounts for 88 infections.
- See confirmed Victorian cases by local government area here
- Victoria’s current COVID-19 restrictions are outlined here
Despite the spike, Victoria pushed ahead with plans to ease its social distancing measures on Wednesday.
Residents can now host up to five visitors in their homes and gather outside in groups of 10.
“Restrictions around some activities have been relaxed in Victoria in recognition of the current low rate of community transmission of this virus,” Professor Sutton said.
“While it is encouraging that we can begin a cautious path to normalcy, this is not an invitation to indulge in potential risky behaviours.
“We must maintain physical distancing and act in a common-sense way to ensure we don’t create a second wave of this terrible disease.”
He credited the state’s testing blitz – with more than 160,000 Victorians tested for coronavirus in the past fortnight – for allowed the easing of restrictions to go ahead.
Jobs Minister Martin Pakula also said life could not go back to normal yet.
“What we’re not saying at this stage is it’s OK for everyone to just go back to doing things that they did before,” he said.
“The last thing we want to do is to reopen everything too quickly and then have a yo-yo effect where you open things up and then close things down.”
Mr Pakula unveiled a $150 million package to help the state’s tourism, sport and creative industries survive.
Meanwhile, Victoria Police is also taking a less zealous approach to fining people for breaching remaining coronavirus measures.
On Tuesday, the force issued just two fines under the laws, after officers were told on Monday to seek a supervisor’s approval before issuing fines.
“Victoria Police recognises there may be some genuine ambiguity from the community and police members alike regarding the interpretation of the new directions,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.
“This new process will assist in providing a fair and balanced approach to all breaches and ensure accuracy in offence determination.
“It also ensures a heightened level of discretion is used by police while these changes are being understood by the community.”