News Coronavirus One COVID case in Victoria, ahead of rules easing

One COVID case in Victoria, ahead of rules easing

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Victoria has had just one local COVID case in four days.
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Victoria had another local coronavirus case on Thursday, hours before its virus restrictions are set to ease further.

The latest case – after two days of zero local transmission – is a primary close contact who has been in quarantine throughout their infectious period.

The result came from more than 22,000 COVID tests in Victoria in the previous 24-hour period.

The state also had three more infections in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

Earlier, chief health officer Brett Sutton was eyeing a return to Victoria’s pre-outbreak restrictions but would not rule out again using a lockdown as a COVID-busting “tool”.

Acting Premier James Merlino said Victoria would take “big steps forward” from 11.59pm on Thursday, with a raft of new measures confirmed for the next fortnight.

Under the changes, Melbourne and regional Victoria will move to almost identical rules, including changes that allow 15 visitors into homes.

Up to 50 people will be able to gather outdoors statewide, while the cap on funerals and weddings has been boosted to 300 guests.

With a bumper weekend of sports events on the calendar, Victorians can return to Melbourne stadiums with half-capacity crowds up to 25,000 people.

That has opened the door for some 15,000 spectators to attend Saturday’s A-League grand final at AAMI Park and 5000 fans to watch game three of NBL grand final series at John Cain Arena on Friday night.

Theatres can also open at 50 per cent capacity, with up to 1000 people.

From July 1, subject to public health advice, theatres will move to full capacity and indoor and outdoor stadiums can increase to 85 per cent.

The two-week rules block is designed to give Victorians confidence to plan for the upcoming school holidays.

With ongoing outbreaks almost cleared, Professor Sutton hoped the state would be ready to return to pre-lockdown settings at the end of the next fortnight.

“That’s clearly our aspiration,” he said.

He acknowledged Victoria’s fourth lockdown had left people “angrier, more frustrated and more fatigued” than previous iterations, though flagged they would remain a tool in health official’s arsenal.

“I hope that we’re in a situation where we’ve got such high vaccination coverage that we never have to consider a lockdown,” he said.

“But if that is what’s required, based on what we’re confronted with, I wouldn’t want to set it aside as never being available to us as a tool.”

Mr Merlino has repeatedly attacked the federal government for its “shambolic” vaccine rollout, with the state government reducing first-dose Pfizer shots over supply concerns.

On Wednesday, federal Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck tabled a document outlining the Commonwealth’s vaccine allocation targets to Victoria for the rest of 2021.

It showed Pfizer doses were expected to rise from 85,540-100,000 in July and August, and then up to 140,000-200,000 from October and December.

More than 17,800 Victorians received a vaccine dose at state-run hubs in the 24 hours to Thursday.

-with AAP