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Bringing reopening dates forward a ‘difficult’ call even if Victoria is ahead of schedule, Andrews says

Premier Daniel Andrews says lifting coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne ahead of schedule is a “difficult” call that will not be made unless it is safe to do so.

Key points:

  • Melbourne’s 14-day average is now 34.4, meaning the city is still on track for some restrictions to be lifted on September 28
  • The number of active coronavirus infections in Victoria has dropped by 86 to 657 overnight
  • Driving tests in regional Victoria will be able to resume from today

Victoria has recorded 11 new coronavirus cases overnight, the state’s lowest daily increase in more than three months, and two further deaths.

It is the 11th consecutive day the state has recorded a daily infections number below 50.

For weeks authorities have hinted that the later steps in the “reopening roadmap” could potentially be shifted forward if cases continued improving faster than anticipated.

At today’s coronavirus press conference, Mr Andrews said the dropping cases showed the “strategy was working” but warned numbers were still too high to open up.

“Everyone wants to be open yesterday, but if we do it too fast, then we simply run an unacceptable risk of losing control,” he said.

Catch up on all the big COVID-19 news from September 21 in our coronavirus blog.

The rolling 14-day average of daily cases has dropped to 34.4 in metropolitan Melbourne, from 36.2 yesterday.

Regional Victoria’s rolling case average is now 1.6, down from 1.8 yesterday.

Victoria’s road to recovery

A graphic illustration shows a green map of Victoria with a grey linked chain across it and a padlock.

A graphic illustration shows a green map of Victoria with a grey linked chain across it and a padlock.

One of the coronavirus deaths reported today was linked to an aged care outbreak. The people who died were one woman in her 80s and one woman in her 100s.

Victoria’s coronavirus death toll is now 763.

Today’s number of new infections is the state’s lowest since nine new infections were reported on June 16.

About 7,160 coronavirus test results were processed overnight.

There are now a total of 657 active cases across Victoria, down from 743 yesterday.

Of those active cases there are 332 in aged care settings, and just 23 are in regional Victoria.

“Those numbers are low and are getting lower and that is a credit to everyone in regional Australia for the mighty job they have done and the seriousness with which they take these rules,” Mr Andrews said.

Victoria COVID-19 snapshot

  • Melbourne’s 14-day average: 34.4
  • Regional Victoria’s 14-day average: 1.6
  • Current active cases: 657
  • Active cases in regional Victoria: 23
  • Active cases in healthcare workers: 79
  • Active cases linked to aged care: 332
  • Deaths: 763
  • Cases in hospital: 92
  • Intensive care patients: 6
  • Tests since pandemic began: More than 2.58 million
  • Confirmed cases so far: 20,051

Updated Monday September 21

Latest Victorian Government info

Bringing reopening dates forward ‘won’t be an easy judgement’, Premier says

Metropolitan Melbourne is scheduled to have restrictions eased slightly on September 28, as long as its 14-day average stays below 50.

The next step in Melbourne’s reopening “roadmap” is scheduled for October 26, and requires meeting trigger points of recording a statewide 14-day daily new case average below five and fewer than five “mystery” cases over a two-week period.

When asked today whether some steps could be brought forward, Mr Andrews said “common sense” would guide decisions if trigger points were met early.

“We will look at what sits behind the numbers and then we will have to make a judgement and it won’t be an easy judgement,” he said.

“Has enough time passed for us to be confident that the numbers we are seeing are a true reflection of how much virus is out there?

“They are very difficult judgements to make.”

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Premier Daniel Andrews says health advice will be updated to reflect data when needed.

He said modelling would be updated regularly to take data into account.

“Not only are case numbers important, but the story that sits behind those case numbers is important and the passage of time, frustratingly, is important also,” he said.

“That is why this Sunday and indeed all of our dates, has been case numbers or the date, whichever is later.

“Just to be clear though — circumstances can change, advice can change, models will be rerun and we will then have more to say about what we believe is safe.”

A woman wearing a mask and white cape walks in Melbourne's Docklands.

A woman wearing a mask and white cape walks in Melbourne's Docklands.

Melbourne’s 14-day rolling daily case average is now 34.4.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

Regional driving tests resume

In regional Victoria, VicRoads will start working its way through the backlog of 30,000 driver licence and learner permit tests from today.

Its first priority will be re-booking the approximately 5,000 regional Victorians whose appointments were postponed earlier in the year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Regional Victoria will also be allowed to have school camps in term four.

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The state’s regions have been living under slightly relaxed restrictions for a week now, after moving to step three of the state’s reopening roadmap last Monday.

Caravan park operators say their phones “have been ringing real hard” since, with travelling and overnight stays in regional Victoria permitted again.

Mr Andrews said on Sunday he was “confident” that he would be able to make “significant announcements” this Sunday.

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