Victoria covid updates: Melbourne lockdown to end at 11.59pm Thursday

Melburnians will finally emerge from a two-week lockdown tomorrow night, but some tough restrictions will remain for the city.

Melbourne residents will emerge from a tough two-week lockdown tomorrow night, with government sources confirming restrictions will be eased across the city.

All of Victoria was plunged into a seven day “circuit breaker” lockdown on May 27, with residents given just five reasons to leave their homes.

The rapid spread of the virus then led authorities to extend the lockdown for Melbourne, with restrictions finally set to ease at 11.59pm on Thursday.

Both the Herald Sun and the ABC have confirmed the lockdown will ease as planned, but some restrictions, including travel limits, will be in place.

It is understood Victorian government and public health officials were working overnight to sort out the details of the post lockdown restrictions, with the final details to be confirmed this morning.

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“The settings are likely to be similar to what happened for regional Victoria last week,” a senior government source told theHerald Sun.

One of the major restrictions will be the introduction of a 25 kilometre travel bubble for Melburnians, with visits to other households also off limits.

Restaurants and cafes will likely have a 50-customer limit, and outdoor get-togethers will be capped at 10 people. Masks will still be required indoors.

The easing of restrictions is set to go ahead, though a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases or a jump in mystery infections could impact plans.

The state recorded just two new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of locally acquired cases in the outbreak to 85.

The low number came as a relief to Victorians after recording an alarming surge of 11 new cases on Sunday.

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Tough restrictions to remain for long weekend

Acting Premier James Merlino aimed to reassure Melbourne residents yesterday, saying the state was still on track to announce an easing of restrictions thanks to the “outstanding work” of contact tracers.

“We remain on track to later in this week announce, as we have said we have planned to do all along, further easings of restriction in regional Victoria and careful easing of restrictions in Melbourne,” he said.

“This cluster was discovered after the lockdown was in place and nothing about today changes our plan. So I just want to send that very reassuring message to all Victorians. Nothing about today changes our plans.”

The lockdown is due to end just before the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, with Mr Merlino continually highlighting the need for some restrictions to remain in place over this period.

When announcing the lockdown extension last week, the acting premier said that “even if all goes well” people from Melbourne won’t be able to travel to regional Victoria for the June long weekend.

“The risk of exporting this virus is just too high,” he said.

Mr Merlino backed up these comments on Tuesday, saying there will be different restrictions in place for metropolitan and regional Victoria during this period.

“We want to be upfront and honest with people at the earliest opportunity, particularly because we’re coming up to the long weekend, so we are on track for an easing of restrictions as planned this week, but there will be different settings for a period of time between regional Victoria and Melbourne,” he said.

“There are very good reasons for that. We absolutely want to run this thing to ground and ensure that there’s no risk of this spreading out into regional Victoria.

Source of Delta strain outbreak uncovered

The source of Victoria’s concerning outbreak of the Delta strain of Covid-19 was revealed yesterday, with health authorities linking the cluster to a returned traveller.

The highly-infectious Delta strain first emerged in India and has since spread to dozens of other countries, with authorities discovering it for the first time in the Australian community last week.

There are at least 14 confirmed cases of the mutant strain linked to the West Melbourne cluster.

On Tuesday, Mr Merlino confirmed a genomic match has been found between this cluster and a returned traveller who entered hotel quarantine on May 8 after arriving from Sri Lanka.

“While we have a genomic link, we do not currently have an epidemiological link, and further investigations are under way to see if we are able to establish any contact between the returned traveller and these families,” he said.

“There’s currently no definitive understanding of where a transmission events may have occurred but we are investigating all possibilities from the plane to travel to hotel.”

The returned traveller tested positive to the virus the same day he arrived in Melbourne and was transferred from the Novotel Ibis quarantine hotel to the Holiday Inn health hotel on May 14 before being released from quarantine on May 23.

Investigations have not been able to uncover how the virus leaked into the community, with widespread testing of all his known contacts so far providing no insight.

Deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng said this suggests there has been transmission either directly from person-to-person or indirectly via unidentified cases to the family and the community.

“The investigation is continuing but there is four main theories and some of them are more or less likely. The first possibly is that the case transmitted to or was infected by someone — another passenger on the plane — and that person has gone on to infect someone in the community,” Professor Cheng said.

“The second possibility is that the case transmitted after he left hotel quarantine. The third is that the case transmitted to a staff member somewhere along their journey from the airport to transport to the first hotel to transport to the second hotel and then out to the community, and then the fourth possibility is that the case transmitted to a hotel resident who has then transmitted to the community after their quarantine stay.”

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