Vic cases drop to 51, seven more deaths

Melbourne’s controversial lockdown curfew was brought in with no input from Victoria Police, according to Chief Commissioner Shane Patton.

He said the first they were aware of the measure was when the state government sent them a copy of the guidelines only a couple of hours before they were approved.

The curfew has become another issue for the Andrews government, which is under fire for the state’s second coronavirus wave.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said this week it was not his call to introduce the curfew, which started on August 2 when the state of disaster was declared and Melbourne went into its stage-four lockdown.

“The reality is, I was never consulted,” Mr Patton told 3AW.

“I’ve made inquiries to determine if anyone in the organisation was briefed on the matter.

“As best as I can work out, our policy area was provided a copy of the proposed guidelines … a couple of hours before they were signed off.

“We had never requested a curfew.”

The curfew will be eased back by an hour as of next Monday, starting at 9pm instead of 8pm and ending at 5am.

According to the government’s controversial roadmap announced on Sunday, it will not end until October 26 at the earliest.

Victoria had mixed coronavirus news on Thursday, with the death toll passing 700 as new cases had a welcome fall.

Thursday’s seven fatalities took the state toll to 701 and the national figure to 788.

But after Wednesday’s spike of 76 cases, that figure has dropped to 51.

The 14-day average of new cases will be a critical number in the state government’s roadmap out of the second wave.

Melbourne’s average of 74.5 on Wednesday and the five for regional Victoria continue to fall.

Mr Andrews insists his roadmap is the only path out as he continues to cop flak over the plan.

There is no set date yet for when regional restrictions will ease.

“If anger and frustration were like a vaccine against this virus, then we would all be in a much better position,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.

“The notion that I have chosen this way to go and there were 50 other options I could have chosen, that’s not in any way accurate.”

The premier has reiterated that restrictions could be eased quicker depending on case numbers.

That would allow footpaths and parks to be transformed in the coming months to open-air dining and drinking areas, mitigating the risk of business outbreaks.

“You will see roads and laneways closed,” Mr Andrews said.

“You’ll see parks that will become a centre of not just passive (recreation), but you’ll see people drinking and dining in those parks.”

As the state also ramps up its much-maligned contact tracing system, testing of up to 300 sewage samples a week is taking place at 25 sites to help detect the spread of the virus.

The government said sewage samples at the coastal town of Apollo Bay had revealed signs the virus was circulating, prompting health authorities to increase testing in the area.

Wednesday’s statewide test numbers almost doubled to 16,686, up from Tuesday’s 8704.

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