Andrews pledges exit plan after pressure

Daniel Andrews is preparing to outline an exit strategy for Victoria’s tough lockdowns, which have become a major flashpoint with the federal government.

Victoria recorded 73 new cases on Monday, the lowest daily increase since early July.

The state also recorded another 41 deaths, but only eight occurred in the past 24 hours.

The remaining 33 deaths were added to the tally after being reported to the health department.

The national coronavirus death toll now stands at 652.

The Victorian premier will outline a plan to ease social and business restrictions on September 6.

“It is too early today to settle that roadmap and to lock that in,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

“Another week’s data is critically important to make sure that the strategy continues to work and for us to have a better sense of how long it will take to drive these numbers down to very, very low numbers.”

Melbourne’s stage four restrictions are due to end in two weeks.

“It’s hard to see that happening,” Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told the Nine Network.

“I think the numbers need to be a lot less than they are now.”

Dr Coatsworth compared the state to NSW and Queensland, which are recording fewer than 10 new daily cases.

Victorian business restrictions are dragging down the national economy and federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warns the fallout will only get worse.

“This has to be the biggest public policy failure by a state government in living memory,” he told reporters.

But with parliament back in session, the federal government is bracing for more uncomfortable questions about its own mishandling of deadly outbreaks in aged care.

New polling suggests people have cooled on the Commonwealth over its stewardship of nursing homes, and overwhelmingly side with the premiers in a federal-state tussle over internal borders.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government was focused on blaming states instead of getting people back to work.

“We have a government which spends all of its time blame shifting and finger pointing,” he told reporters.

“It is no surprise Australians are tiring of a prime minister who chases headlines and not jobs.”

Federal politicians will pass legislation to extend JobKeeper wage subsidies this week.

The government will also secure boosted JobSeeker unemployment benefits until the end of this year.

Figures being released on Wednesday will highlight the economic impact of the virus and confirm the nation is in recession.

Mr Frydenberg appears to be laying the groundwork to blame Victoria for a large slice of the economic collapse.

Economists are expecting a contraction of six per cent, the biggest decline since the late 1950s.

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