News Coronavirus Tenth virus-free day for Victoria, as Melbourne’s ‘ring of steel’ is dismantled
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Tenth virus-free day for Victoria, as Melbourne’s ‘ring of steel’ is dismantled

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Melbourne has taken more steps out of lockdown, with another day without new COVID infections. Photo: Getty
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Victoria is finally whole again, with the so-called “ring of steel” that had divided Melbourne from the regions being dismantled.

It came as the state posted its 10th day in a row on Monday with no new coronavirus cases or fatalities.

There are just four active virus infections across Victoria and two mystery cases, as Melbourne takes another step towards “COVID-normal”.

Testing boss Jeroen Weimar said on Monday a positive test reported on Sunday was found to be a previously-quarantined person from Western Australia.

He said the case had been ruled as viral shedding and did not count as a new positive result.

The easing of restrictions has fed debate about how long Victorians will have to keep wearing masks. Mr Weimar noted that Melbourne had started coming out of lockdown only a fortnight ago.

“Right here, right now, masks are a critical element in safeguarding gains we have made,” he said.

Elsewhere, NSW had its second consecutive day without new local infections. It also confirmed seven more cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

NSW has 63 active coronavirus cases, with one patient in intensive care.

Queensland had another day without any new COVID cases.

Back in Victoria, regional parts of the state had been closed to Melburnians for months as the city continued its second wave fight with COVID-19.

On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the border would be thrown open from midnight.

“We know that so many people have missed those that they love the most, those who they need to see, been desperately keen to see, for such a long period of time,” he said.

The 25-kilometre travel limit for Melburnians also went on the scrap heap, with a raft of rule changes that went beyond those previously announced.

Hospitality venues can now host up to 70 patrons outdoors and 40 indoors, while a maximum of 20 people will be allowed in gyms, libraries, community centres, galleries, museums and cinemas.

victoria fine regional country
From Monday, Melburnians no longer face police checks preventing them leaving the city.

Aged care residents are able to have visitors from one household per day for two hours, and partners can visit maternity wards indefinitely.

Worker caps on meat, poultry and seafood industries are also gone, but anyone who is able to work from home must continue to do so and masks remain mandatory outdoors.

Looking ahead, Mr Andrews flagged a further winding back of statewide rules on November 22. NSW has already said it will open its border to Victoria from November 23.

Victoria’s peak tourism and police groups welcomed the end of the regional divide but the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said a plan is still needed for the return of functions, events and office workers.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said Sunday’s announcement was long overdue, suggesting Victorians could be forgiven for wanting more of their freedoms back.

“When you see only four active cases in a state of 6.5 million people … you’ve got to ask: didn’t we deserve a bit more than what we got today,” he said.

The state’s death toll remains at 819 and the national figure at 907.

-with AAP