Victoria is set to ease further coronavirus restrictions this weekend as the state goes 36 days without a fresh infection.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told a parliamentary inquiry it is safe for the state to move to a ‘COVID normal’ level of restrictions on Sunday.
Under the government’s original roadmap out of lockdown, ‘COVID normal’ signifies the end of restrictions on community sport, hospitality venues, gatherings and visitors to the home.
Professor Sutton said authorities were still working through details ahead of Premier Daniel Andrew’s Sunday press conference, but confirmed advice around masks, which currently must be worn in outdoor settings, will change.
Mask rules will soon be relaxed in Victoria after the state recorded 36 days straight without any new coronavirus infections. Pictured: People walk along Bourke Street Mall on November 27
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told a parliamentary inquiry it is safe for the state to move to a ‘COVID normal’ level of restrictions on Sunday
‘It’s to be determined this weekend, but we will move to a phase where there is an even more limited use of masks in public,’ he told the parliament’s public accounts and estimates committee on Friday.
‘But the recommendation for mask-wearing still exists around Australia, even in places where it hasn’t been mandated at all.
‘It is a kind of insurance for all of us in Australia, we don’t know where another incursion into the country might come from.’
Victoria went 36 days without a new Covid-19 case on Saturday, with 7,760 tests conducted over the past 24 hours.
The state is also expected to unveil new density requirements for pubs, restaurants and cafes come Sunday.
According to the Herald Sun, some venues will be able to effectively double their capacity with the changes.
It understood Victoria will follow in the footsteps of NSW and South Australia with a density limit of one person per two square metres of space.
Revellers will also be allowed to stand and drink when in outside sections of venues.
Professor Sutton said authorities were still working through details ahead of Premier Daniel Andrew’s Sunday press conference, but confirmed advice around masks, which currently must be worn in indoor settings, will change. Pictured: A woman wears a face mask at Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall
Premier Daniel Andrews will address the media on Sunday to announce the eased restrictions
The cap on attendees at religious gatherings is also expected to be scratched ahead of Christmas and will instead be replaced with the one person per two square metre rule.
On Monday five international flights from Colombo, Doha, Hong Kong and Singapore will land at Melbourne Airport as the state’s revamped hotel quarantine program restarts.
International flights were diverted from Victoria in June after security guards at two quarantine hotels contracted COVID-19.
The outbreaks sparked the state’s second wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths.
The government announced on Friday it will introduce legislation to charge for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The fees will be set at $3000 per adult, $1000 for each additional adult in a room and $500 for children aged between three and 18 years. There will be no charge for children under three.
Pictured: Shoppers walk along a busy Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne on November 27
Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the legislation will bring Victoria into line with other states and territories.
‘It also ensures that when international flights to Victoria resume, we do not get a disproportionate number of returned travellers seeking to complete their mandatory quarantine period here to avoid the fees in other states,’ she said in a statement.
Ms Neville added there will be hardship considerations, including fee waivers, reductions and payment plan options.
There will be no security guards involved in the new-look program, with all staff employed or directly contracted by the government with the exception of cleaning staff, who are on fixed-term contracts with Alfred Health.
Hundreds of Victoria Police officers will act as security as well as undertake floor monitoring in ‘health hotels’, which will house those travellers who test positive to COVID-19.
Victoria went 36 days without a new Covid-19 case on Saturday, with 7,760 tests conducted over the past 24 hours
More than 150 Australian Defence Force personnel will support Victoria Police by helping guests on entry and exit, as well as registering staff movements and conducting temperature checks.
About 100 ADF members arrived on Friday afternoon and will begin their training on Saturday, with the remainder to arrive on Tuesday, a government spokeswoman confirmed.
Arrivals to Victoria will be initially capped at 160 travellers a day.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating traces of COVID-19 detected in wastewater from the Daylesford, Hepburn and Hepburn Springs area.
Locals and visitors to the region last weekend are urged to get tested.
A testing push is already underway in the town of Colac, southwest of Melbourne, after it also recorded a positive wastewater sample.
Pedestrians are seen walking along the Flinders Street Station underpass in Melbourne