Victoria has recorded its first day without a coronavirus fatality in more than two months, as infection numbers rise slightly.
The state had no new COVID deaths to report on Tuesday – the first day since July 13 it has not added to its heart-breaking pandemic toll.
Victoria accounts for 729 of Australia’s 816 coronavirus deaths.
Health authorities also confirmed 42 more infections on Tuesday – up slightly from Monday’s 11-week low of 35 but not enough to stop the state’s crucial 14-day averages from falling further.
Melbourne’s rolling 14-day average of new COVID cases – which must hit 50 before Stage 4 restrictions will ease further – has fallen to 52.9. In regional Victoria, which has only one of Tuesday’s new cases, the average is 3.6.
On Monday, Premier Daniel Andrews said Victorians living outside Melbourne might move to the “third step” of their roadmap plan as early as this week.
That step, allowing people to leave their homes without restrictions and hospitality businesses to reopen, is triggered if the benchmark average remains below five and no “mystery” cases are recorded.
Barring an uptick in new cases on Tuesday, Mr Andrews said people could expect an announcement.
“There won’t be a lot of notice,” he said on Monday.
“That is preferable in making people wait for another week or so.
“Hopefully we can have very good news for regional Victoria tomorrow.”
Also on Monday, the Victorian government unveiled a multimillion-dollar package to transform footpaths and streets into open-air dining areas after the COVID lockdown.
The $290 million package includes $100 million for sole traders who will remain closed or heavily restricted as the state begins to reopen.
Another $100 million will go towards a Melbourne City Recovery Fund to help small to medium businesses set up outdoors, fund COVID-safe events and cultural activities and make physical improvements to the city streetscape.
Under the state government’s plan, Melbourne’s bars, cafes and restaurants can open for outdoor dining from October 26.
It follows a $3 billion suite of business cash grants, payroll tax deferrals and fee waivers announced on Sunday.
Melbourne took its first tentative steps out of lockdown on Monday, with those living alone or single parents allowed to have one visitor, outdoor exercise extended to two hours and curfew’s start time extended an hour to 9pm.