Australia

Victoria records nine new local COVID-19 cases as fifth lockdown lifts

Victoria has recorded an additional locally acquired COVID-19 case involving a testing site traffic controller, on its first day out of lockdown.

Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed the traffic controller at the Moonee Valley racecourse drive-through testing centre worked at least two days while infectious.

The site has closed and staff has been sent home to isolate as a precaution.

“We do believe there will be minimal risk,” Mr Foley told reporters on Wednesday.

The traffic controller was not a primary close contact of a previous case and has not been linked to Victoria’s current outbreaks.

“It’s obviously a concern, but we are in early minutes, if not hours, of understanding exactly what’s happened where it might have been acquired (he’s) at a testing site, obviously that’s a point we’ll look at in terms of how he might have acquired it,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

The new case was detected after the midnight deadline to report new cases.

The other eight new locally acquired cases reported on Wednesday are linked to Victoria’s current outbreaks and were in isolation for their entire infectious period.

There are now 198 infections linked to the outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant, which originated from NSW.

More than 35,000 test results were received in the 24 hours to midnight on Wednesday, while 19,349 vaccine doses were administered at state-run sites during the same period.

It comes as Victorians wake to a taste of freedom on Wednesday after its 12-day statewide lockdown was lifted.

Victorians can now travel any distance and leave their homes for any reason, but masks will remain compulsory indoors and outdoors.

A ban on home gatherings remains, however people are able to gather outside in groups of 10.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

AAP

Restaurants and cafes can reopen for seated service only, with a maximum cap of 100 per venue and density quotas of one person per four square metres, while smaller venues are limited to 25 people.

Retail, live music venues and gyms can also throw open their doors with strict density limits, workers may return to offices at 25 per cent capacity and students can return to school.

But the business community is warning many venues may not be able to open under the new rules, which are expected to remain in place for two weeks.

“I predict half the cafes on Chapel Street won’t open for another few weeks,” Chapel Street Precinct general manager Chrissie Maus said.

Employer body Ai Group says Victoria’s “lockdown lite” restrictions will do little to alleviate angst in the business community.

“The new restrictions won’t enable restaurants, cafes and hospitality venues to return to numbers which allow them to run a profitable business,” the body’s Victorian head Tim Piper said.

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