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Covid-19 Australia: Victoria restrictions could be eased by Thursday

Victoria could have several restrictions eased this week amid warnings some are useless in stopping the spread of Covid. 

The state recorded another 73 local Covid cases on Monday as senior government ministers considered rolling back a number of measures after being briefed by the public health team on Sunday.

Reopening playgrounds, sending Year 12 students back to the classroom, lifting the 9pm to 5am curfew and scrapping the five kilometre travel rule are among the possible changes.

A final decision is expected to be made on Tuesday as the state government considers what lockdown will look like beyond Thursday. 

Victoria could have several restrictions eased this week amid warnings some are useless in stopping the spread of Covid

Reopening playgrounds, sending Year 12 students back to the classroom, lifting the 9pm to 5am curfew and scrapping the five kilometre travel rule are among the possible changes

Reopening playgrounds, sending Year 12 students back to the classroom, lifting the 9pm to 5am curfew and scrapping the five kilometre travel rule are among the possible changes

Victoria’s new cases included 21 mystery infections not yet linked to the rest of the outbreak. How many were infectious in the community was not specified.

They were diagnosed from 41,395 tests and 26,702 vaccine doses were administered on Sunday.

Victorian epidemiologist Catherine Bennett warned the virus had spread too far for health officials to contain the outbreak and achieve zero cases. 

She said it would be better for the government to lift restrictions that had little impact on the spread of the virus, such as reopening playgrounds.

‘If parents understand how to have their kids in play in playgrounds safely … where you don’t have a whole lot of kids climbing on the same piece of equipment … you can find some kind of safe compromise,’ she told The Age. 

‘This isn’t relying on kids to do the right thing, but means parents know how to use those playgrounds by being really mindful of cross-household transmission.’  

Year 12 students could be allowed to return to the classroom as senior government officials consider what restrictions can be eased

Year 12 students could be allowed to return to the classroom as senior government officials consider what restrictions can be eased

Grattan Institute health program director Stephen Duckett has suggested reopening cafes and lifting the five kilometre travel limit for fully-vaccinated residents in a bid to ease the mental load of residents doing it tough during lockdown.  

He has also called for a revision of restrictions across regional Victoria.

He argued strict measures could be eased for places that had recorded zero Covid cases, and remain in force in hotspots such as Shepparton, which had 94 active cases.

‘This would not mean abandoning a COVID-control goal; it would simply mean recognising the reality that the principal aim is to protect the public and the hospital system, and that we could still achieve that with a lighter touch,’ he said. 

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said he expected the curfew and five-kilometre travel limit to be lifted. He has also called for businesses to be allowed to reopen in regional Victoria.

‘Businesses across Victoria are in crisis,’ he said. 

‘They are incredibly frustrated that, despite doing everything that has been asked of them – COVID-safe plans, QR code check-ins, observing density limits and, for many, closing their doors and standing down staff – there is still no clear path to how or when they can open.’ 

Computational epidemiologist Mikhail Prokopenko insisted restrictions remain in place until 80 per cent of the state was fully-jabbed.

On Sunday, premier Daniel Andrews announced the sixth lockdown in the state would be extended beyond September 2

On Sunday, premier Daniel Andrews announced the sixth lockdown in the state would be extended beyond September 2

On Sunday, premier Daniel Andrews announced the sixth lockdown in the state would be extended beyond September 2.

The decision came after the state recorded 92 new cases with 30 not yet linked to existing outbreaks. 

‘We see far too many cases today for us to seriously consider opening up later on this week,’ Mr Andrews said.

Despite the figures, he promised there was ‘still a chance’ of the state’s case numbers returning to zero.

‘It’s only fair that we be as up front as possible,’ Mr Andrews said.

Sunday’s tally is a jump from the previous day’s local case figure of 64, and the highest number of new cases recorded since early September 2020, when the state battled the second wave of the virus.

Two-thirds of the state’s active cases are in Melbourne’s north and west.

‘That’s not to single out the north or the west, but … that is where the cases are and that’s where the extra effort has to be,’ Mr Andrews said.

Western suburbs doctor Amrooha Hussain told reporters at Sunday’s news conference that she continued to see people arriving for Covid tests up to two weeks after they showed symptoms.

Sunday's tally is a jump from the previous day's local case figure of 64, and the highest number of new cases recorded since early September 2020, when the state battled the second wave of the virus

Sunday’s tally is a jump from the previous day’s local case figure of 64, and the highest number of new cases recorded since early September 2020, when the state battled the second wave of the virus

Computational epidemiologist Mikhail Prokopenko insisted restrictions remain in place until 80 per cent of the state was fully-jabbed

Computational epidemiologist Mikhail Prokopenko insisted restrictions remain in place until 80 per cent of the state was fully-jabbed

She said entire families with young children had been infected.

‘It’s hard enough to look after one sick child, but when there’s multiple sick children, and then the carers are unwell themselves, it’s a really challenging time for those families,’ she said.

Another 12 cases were found in Broadmeadows, 12 in Newport, nine linked to earlier outbreaks in Glenroy, and four from a supermarket in Altona North.

One COVID case was found in the Gippsland town of Traralgon after the person went to a funeral in Melbourne.

The outbreak in Shepparton in the Goulburn Valley region has also grown, with nine new cases.

One case was also uncovered in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system.

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews said the prime minister had promised him in a conversation on Saturday that NSW would no longer get ‘preferential treatment’ in vaccine distribution.

‘We didn’t begrudge them getting additional doses, but we’re locked down, they’re locked down, and the need is just as great here,’ Mr Andrews said.

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews said the prime minister had promised him in a conversation on Saturday that NSW would no longer get 'preferential treatment' in vaccine distribution

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews said the prime minister had promised him in a conversation on Saturday that NSW would no longer get ‘preferential treatment’ in vaccine distribution

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk