Victoria’s five-day coronavirus lockdown will end at midnight – but at some restrictions, including face masks and limited gatherings, will remain.
The announcement that Victorians will be freed from tough lockdown came as the state recorded no new locally-acquired or hotel quarantine coronavirus infections on Wednesday.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he was able to lift the ‘short sharp circuit breaker’ thanks to the hard work of Victorians.
‘[The lockdown was] exactly what we said we needed, that’s exactly what we said would work,’ he said.
‘I am very proud of every single Victorian for the work they have done.’
Face masks are still required indoors and outdoors if social distancing cannot be followed.
Victorians will be allowed to have five guests in their houses and 20 people are allowed to gather outdoors.
The five-day lockdown meant spectators were banned from watching the Australian Open. Pictured: An empty stadium
Pictured: Health workers assist quarantining guests as they leave the Holiday Inn on February 16
Senior government ministers met on Tuesday night to discuss the easing of restrictions, which were introduced following an outbreak of the UK strain at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn where returned travellers were being quarantined.
Mr Andrews said on Tuesday his government was ‘well placed to make changes’ and there was some ‘very promising, early signs’.
However Mr Andrews added he was in no position to definitively commit to that, due to the unpredictability of the next 24 hours.
The premier said it was safer to always assume there is a handful of Covid cases unknown to authorities.
‘You’d always prefer no new cases, but it is fair to say … this strategy is working.
‘We will get these rules off as quickly and safely as we possibly can.’
The outbreak at the Holiday Inn sits at 19 cases.
The entire state of Victoria was plunged into a snap five day lockdown on February 12 in response to an outbreak at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn which has since grown to 19 cases (crowds at the Australian Open were banned following the announcement)
Pictured: Cafes and retail shops are closed in Melbourne’s Bourke St as police patrol the area during the five-day lockdown
The starting point of the cluster can be traced back to a family of three who had returned from overseas and tested positive for Covid.
A returned traveller in the family was allegedly using a nebuliser to treat his chronic asthma and said he was given permission by health authorities to use the medical device.
It is believed the nebuliser allowed coronavirus-carrying particles to become airborne and infect a food and beverage worker, a security officer and a resident who has since left hotel quarantine.
Last Wednesday dozens of guests at the Holiday Inn were moved to another quarantine hotel, while 130 staff were told to isolate at home.
A food and beverage worker from the Holiday Inn who tested negative on February 7, but tested positive three days later, is believed to be the source of another cluster close-by.
The worker’s partner and a family member also tested positive and all attended a function at Sydney Road in Coburg on February 6, which has resulted in more cases.
The Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn (pictured) Covid-19 cluster has grown to 19 cases
Victoria, which has recorded 20,640 cases and 820 deaths since the start of the pandemic, closed schools and banned private gatherings four days ago while making masks mandatory everywhere in response to the outbreak
The state endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns last year after an outbreak sparked a horror second wave that killed more than 800 people, the vast majority of the national death toll.
Brisbane and Perth recently underwent similar snap lockdowns in response to cases of the UK strain leaking from hotel quarantine.
In both instances the outbreak was quickly contained, which is likely what Daniel Andrews is hoping to have achieved on Wednesday morning.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday said the government is ‘well placed to make changes’