Budget looms as Vic has zero virus deaths

Victoria has recorded no new coronavirus deaths as Australians await Tuesday’s federal budget to see what financial aid might be on offer to help.

Nine cases were recorded in Victoria on Monday but it’s the first time since September 15 the state has had no coronavirus deaths.

The national death toll remains at 894. 

The new cases take Melbourne’s 14-day average to 11.6, with the rate needing to be less than five, and  fewer than five mystery cases for restrictions to further ease on October 19.

Regional Victorians will be able to travel to the Northern Territory from next month if cases remain low, with chief minister Michael Gunner reassuring Territorians that strict border controls would be in place.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has promised a jobs-focused budget on Tuesday to steer the economy out of the coronavirus-driven recession.

But it will also be a financial statement that could see the deficit blow out to over $200 billion, while including income tax cuts to get people spending again.

The climb out of recession will depend on virus case numbers dropping and a vaccine being rolled out in 2021.

Road and rail projects worth more than $7 billion are being fast-tracked to get the Australian economy moving again.

Many of the projects are in the planning stage and some are backed by funding commitments from state and territory governments.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the projects will speed up supply chains and create thousands of jobs.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday pleaded for people to “stay the course” after large groups at beaches and parks flouted virus restrictions in recent days after weeks of lockdown in parts of the state.

He warned people that if they “try to shortcut this thing, then we will be back where we were weeks and months ago”.

NSW reported two new coronavirus cases among overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, but clocked up its ninth consecutive day without any community transmission of the virus.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian simply wants the state’s public sector workers to return to offices over coming weeks, in a move she considers to be a significant step in the virus recovery.

“The health and safety of the people of NSW has always been our number one priority, however we are also focused on firing up the economy,” she said.

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