Victoria’s local virus cases have dropped again, with 1749 confirmed on Tuesday.
There were also 11 more deaths, making it one of the deadliest days in the state’s current outbreak so far.
The toll from the outbreak has risen to 163.
But Tuesday’s cases are down on the 1903 on Monday, and the lowest since 1571 reported last Wednesday.
They come as testing rates remain high across Victoria and vaccination rates continue to rise. On the latest federal health data, 66.7 per cent of Victorians over 16 were fully vaccinated, and 88.4 per cent had had a single dose.
Melbourne’s lockdown will end at midnight on Thursday as the state takes a major step in its reopening from the deadly Delta outbreak.
On Monday, Victorian COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar urged businesses to split staff into separate groups to avoid entire workforces being knocked out by the virus, with case numbers expected to rise again after the lockdown ends.
Victoria is already managing more than 61,000 primary close contacts, and Mr Weimar said the changes would minimise the impact of reopening on businesses and customers.
“It’s not our intention to be in a world where … every person in a pub is [a close contact] because one positive case has walked in for 15 minutes,” he said on Monday.
It is recommended businesses split workforces into separate groups to avoid their entire staff being out of action for a week.
“It is exceptionally likely that come Thursday there will still be 22,000 people with COVID in the state,” Mr Weimar said.
“There will be exposures in our shops, in our hospo and all of our other settings, and it’ll be down to how effective those control systems are as to minimise the impacts on other people around them at that time.”
Also on Monday, the Victorian government confirmed it would add shorter isolation to its list of rule tweaks when the state hits its 70 per cent double-dose vaccination target this week.
From 11.59pm on Thursday, isolation orders for fully vaccinated, non-household primary close contacts such as work colleagues and friends will be slashed from 14 days to seven.
They will need to return negative test results on their first and sixth day of quarantine to be free to leave their home.
Unvaccinated primary close contacts must isolate for the full two weeks, along with children under 12 who are still ineligible to be vaccinated.
Under the changes from Friday, restrictions for leaving home and the city’s nightly curfew will be dumped.
Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the eligible population has received both vaccine doses. That is forecast by some data analysts to be as early as October 31.