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‘Now is the time to open up’: Premier announces easing of restrictions with hospitality, retail to reopen

The decision to relax some restrictions comes after hundreds of test results from the northern suburbs were returned on Monday. The results indicated health authorities had control of the outbreak.

“With zero cases and so much testing over the weekend, not just in the north but across the whole state, we are able to say that now is the time to open up,” Mr Andrews said.

The announcement came as Victoria recorded no new cases of coronavirus in the past day and no further deaths. It is the first time since June 9 that there have been no new coronavirus cases recorded statewide.

Under the changes, retail, restaurants, cafes and bars will open on Wednesday with a maximum of 20 people indoors and 10 people per space, and with a maximum of 50 people outdoors in total, with one person per two square metres. Beauty, personal services and tattooing will also reopen.

Outdoor community sport for under-18s and outdoor non-contact sport for adults will recommence.

Meanwhile, the family at the centre of a Melbourne northern suburbs coronavirus cluster says the Department of Health and Human Services cleared them to leave their home two days before one of their children unwittingly attended school while infectious, and did not expressly warn them that the young boy should remain in isolation.

People queue to be tested for COVID-19 at a pop-up clinic in Heidelberg West on Sunday.

People queue to be tested for COVID-19 at a pop-up clinic in Heidelberg West on Sunday.Credit:Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The family told The Age the department had sent an email that said: “Your family has met the Department of Health and Human Service’s (sic) criteria to end isolation.”

On Monday, Victoria’s COVID-19 testing chief Jeroen Weimar said there may have been a “misunderstanding” around information given to the family, but he denied information given to them was wrong.

He said while the state government would continue to simplify communication with positive cases, “we do not accept that in this case or in any other case that we have not been clear about our expectations of people about what those isolations and quarantine means”.

“We absolutely accept there may have been a misunderstanding, but the information we provided is accurate and to the point,” he said. “I am not going to sit here and say we are not explicitly clear about what is happening with individual members of a household.”

Monday is the seventh day in a row that no more deaths from coronavirus have been confirmed in Victoria – the longest the state has gone without a death from the virus since early June.

The state’s 14-day rolling case average is 3.8 and the number of mystery cases confirmed in Victoria over the past fortnight has fallen to seven, down from nine on Sunday.

La Trobe University epidemiologist Hassan Vally said Victoria was in a very strong position to reopen, with a contact-tracing system that had demonstrated its ability by bringing the northern suburbs outbreak under control.

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“We’re in a very strong position. We have got zero cases – that really says it all,” he said. “It’s demonstrated we can bring these clusters under control with our public health response.”

Professor Vally said the announcements on Monday – largely centred on reopening retail – were unsurprising, but were also “sensible and cautious”.

Mr Andrews said he was optimistic Victorians could keep another wave of COVID-19 at bay.

He said further restrictions would ease on November 8 at 11.59pm, “barring a day, or a series of days, we have very high case numbers”.

He said the state was now moving towards COVID-normal. “If we all play a part, I’m confident we can keep this at bay. That doesn’t mean zero every single day. There will be cases. There will be outbreaks,” he said.

“The vast majority of Victorians own these numbers, they’ve delivered these numbers because they’ve stayed the course and have done everything that has been asked of them.”

He said workers returning to offices was probably “still some way off” because it was high-risk.

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