Vic lockdown lifts but outbreak ‘not over’

Victoria’s statewide lockdown will end after 12 days, with stay-home rules scrapped, students to return to school and businesses to reopen.

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced the lockdown – the state’s fifth in 17 months – will lift at 11.59pm on Tuesday, ending stay-home orders and the five-kilometre travel limit.

“It’s not over. We’ve got to be vigilant against this virus, the Delta strain, in the days and weeks and months ahead until we get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Under the eased restrictions, schools can welcome back students for all year levels, hospitality venues can reopen for seated service and outdoor gatherings are allowed for up to 10 people.

Live music venues, dance classes and gyms can also throw open their doors with a strict density limit of one person per four square metres. 

But many onerous restrictions will linger, with health authorities wary of the highly infectious Delta variant that sparked the shutdown.

Victorians won’t be able to have visitors to their home and masks remain compulsory indoors and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

In addition, no crowds will be allowed at sports events or theatres.

The restrictions will remain in place for two weeks.

The statewide lockdown was called on July 15 and initially slated to run five days before it was extended to 11.59pm on Tuesday, as contact tracers struggled to chase down people before they turned positive.

Ten new local COVID-19 cases were reported in Victoria on Tuesday, all linked to current outbreaks and in isolation for their entire infectious period.

With no cases spending any time in the community for three days, no new exposure sites have been listed since Saturday.  

There are now 190 infections linked to the outbreak, which was seeded by a Sydney removalist crew who passed the virus on to residents of Maribyrnong’s Ariele Apartments and a separate family who returned from NSW.

Police have revealed the three-person removalist crew will not face any criminal charges despite not wearing masks on the job, in a breach of their worker permits.

“Victoria Police has undertaken an assessment of the material provided and determined there is no evidence of other offending,” a spokesman said in a statement to AAP on Tuesday.

“As such, Victoria Police will not be taking any action and this matter is closed from a police perspective.”

Victoria’s Health Department has fined one of the removalists $200 for failing to comply with mask rules.

When the outbreak emerged, the state’s COVID commander Jeroen Weimar said health authorities would “throw the book” at the removalists if they were deemed to have breached health directions.

More than 24,000 test results were received in the 24 hours to midnight on Tuesday, while 15,677 vaccine doses were administered at state-run sites during the same period. 

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