28 new cases, eight deaths as regions open up

Victoria's daily case total has dipped below 30 for the first time since June, with 28 new infections in the past 24 hours.

But eight people succumbed to the deadly disease overnight.

It brings metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day rolling average to 44.4.

Melburnians caught sneaking into regional Victoria without a lawful reason will be slapped with a new $4957 fine.

The offence came into effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday as police bolstered their ring of steel around Melbourne to stop people entering regions where restrictions have eased.

Metropolitan Melbourne recorded 42 new cases on Wednesday, and the city's rolling 14-day average dropped to 49.6.

According to the state government's "restrictions roadmap", to take the next step in easing restrictions on September 28, Melbourne must reach an average daily case rate of between 30 and 50 over 14 days.

Despite meeting this requirement, Premier Daniel Andrews said restrictions would not be lifted early.

"We need to wait a little bit longer," he said.

 

A roadblock on the Western freeway ahead of COVID-19 restrictions in regional Victoria being eased. Picture: David Crosling
A roadblock on the Western freeway ahead of COVID-19 restrictions in regional Victoria being eased. Picture: David Crosling

 

Mr Andrews said the rolling 14-day average needed to be below 50 "not just for a day, but for a decent period, for a significant period".

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent hoped the "huge" new penalty would help protect regional communities, which worked hard to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

There are 37 active cases in regional Victoria, with no new infections on Wednesday and a rolling average of 3.9 cases a day. This is compared to 954 active cases in Melbourne.

As part of the crackdown, police will strengthen enforcement at border checkpoints, holiday hot spots and transit hubs across the state.

Mr Nugent warned there would be lengthy delays at border checkpoints as police aimed to check all motorists.

He said additional checkpoints would also be established on the Mornington Pen­insula to deter holiday-makers and beachgoers, especially during school holidays.

These would include pop-up and random checkpoints on backroads to catch people see­king alternative ways through.

 

Transit hubs, including bus and rail depots would also be patrolled by police.

Most of the enforcement work is to be done by local police.

Mr Nugent said: "I've asked them to be very active and ensure they are the protectors of their local community. Those local police will be patrolling the roads, checking vehicles, caravan parks, camping grounds and state parks and attending at boat ramps, pubs, clubs and bars."

Premier Daniel Andrews said pubs and cafes may also play a role in enforcement.

"If you're not from regional Victoria, you should not be at the pub and that compliance will be very important."

Accommodation operators have been told by police to reject bookings from people in the metropolitan area.

 

 

WHO CAN ENTER?

● Essential workers employed outside metropolitan Melbourne

● People with an intimate partner living outside metropolitan Melbourne

● Those who require medical treatment outside metropolitan Melbourne

 

WHO CAN'T?

● Holiday-makers

● People going fishing, walking or sightseeing

● People wanting to visit pubs, bars, clubs, hairdressers or salons

 

HOW CAN I TRAVEL AROUND?

● Regional Victorians can drive through Melbourne en route to a regional destination. They must not stop unless it is essential

● People living outside Melbourne can travel to any other regional area

● Caravan parks and camp grounds can reopen, with bookings restricted to regional residents. Groups limited to intimate partners or "household bubbles"

● Work is under way for national parks to reopen

 

PM KEEN TO SEE STATE REOPEN

Victoria is not opening up quickly enough for some people, according to Scott Morrison.

The Prime Minister said his focus at the moment was working the Daniel Andrews to get the state reopen faster.

"When they announced the plan that I hoped that this was the worst-case scenario in terms of what the plan would be I'm pleased to see that they're moving more quickly than that," Mr Morrison said.

"Not quickly enough, I'm sure, for many in Victoria."

When asked how many times he had offered ADF assistance for hotel quarantine to the Premier, Mr Morrison said his focus had moved onto the recovery roadmap.

"That's again a matter of public record," Mr Morrison said.

"Officials have supported the inquiry down there but to be honest it's not something Dan and I are talking about now.

"I'm keen to see Victoria open up.

"That's what Dan Andrews and I are working on at the moment, just how we can get this happening and we're not pouring over those issues of weeks and months ago."

PUSH TO ALLOW MORE AUSSIES TO COME HOME

Thousands of Australians stranded overseas could soon make their way home after the federal government proposed caps on hotel quarantine places be increased.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has written to the members of National Cabinet asking for a boost to the number of places so the more than 20,000 Aussies can come home.

Mr McCormack proposed 6000 Australians should be allowed back in each week, up from the 4000 allowed at ­present.

"I want to make sure that more Australians can return home," Mr McCormack said.

"There are some heart-wrenching stories.

"I've notified (premiers) that I want to see those additional 2000 places and as soon as possible.

"Hopefully by the end of the month but, if it's possible to do it sooner, then that would be fantastic."

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has written to the members of national Cabinet asking to allow more than 20,000 Aussies to come home. Picture: Getty Images
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has written to the members of national Cabinet asking to allow more than 20,000 Aussies to come home. Picture: Getty Images

The caps were introduced in July at the start of Victoria's second wave, which stemmed from the state's bungled hotel quarantine system.

The federal Opposition has called on the government to take control of the system and implement nationally run quarantine arrangements, such as those used at the start of the year.

Federal deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said whether people were quarantined by the states in hotels or by Border Force in detention facilities, the underlying principles remained the same.

"Infection control procedures need to be excellent, the supervision needs to be excellent," Dr Coatsworth said.

NSW and South Australia have both agreed to take more returned people into hotel quarantine.

Victoria announced in late June that it would divert international flights amid the fallout of the hotel quarantine program.

Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria would not accept return travellers for the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

REGIONAL PUPILS RETURN TO CLASS

Regional primary school students will head back to the classroom immediately after school holidays and a week earlier than their city counterparts.

All pupils at stand-alone primary schools outside of metro Melbourne will be able to return to campuses from week one, while secondary students will remain at home until the second week of term four.

The revision came after the state government decided returning younger pupils in regional areas would not put at risk the compulsory General Achievement Test, which all VCE students must sit in person on Wednesday, October 7.

However, primary students who attend a P-12 school in regional Victoria will only be able to return after the GAT is completed, from October 8.

- Ashley Argoon

 

Crowds line up for the Myer Christmas Window display. Picture: Sarah Matray
Crowds line up for the Myer Christmas Window display. Picture: Sarah Matray

 

RESCUE PLAN FOR MYER CHRISTMAS WINDOWS

Melbourne City Council has hatched a plan to try to save the Myer Christmas Windows tradition.

Myer announced last week that it was cancelling the popular display due to coronavirus fears.

But a city council meeting has authorised chief executive Justin Hanney to negotiate a joint funding package with his Myer counterpart to ensure the windows go ahead.

In her urgent motion, councillor Susan Riley said Premier Daniel Andrews had indicated Christmas would not be normal this year.

"I'm keen for some aspects to be as normal as possible, and these windows could go a long way to achieving that," she said. "Melbourne needs mistletoe magic right now."

 

 

MORE NEWS

TWO HOT SPOTS EMERGE AS SUBURBS BECOME COVID FREE

SUTTON UNAWARE OF HOTEL FLAW

MELBOURNE DIPS BELOW LIST FOR EASING OF RESTRICTIONS

 

aneeka.simonis@news.com.au

 

Originally published as 28 new cases, eight deaths as regions open up

Regional Victorian towns, including Ballarat, will be patrolled by police. Picture: Getty Images
Regional Victorian towns, including Ballarat, will be patrolled by police. Picture: Getty Images


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