- Victoria’s five-day, hard lockdown has ended and greater Melbourne is no longer considered a COVID hotspot. Residents are now free to travel more than five kilometres from their homes and the four reasons for leaving home have been revoked, but some restrictions on public and private gatherings remain.
- Victoria recorded no new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, for the first time since February 9. NSW recorded no new local cases for the 31st day in a row on Wednesday and Queensland recorded its 41st straight day of zero cases.
- Debate rages among scientists over whether a nebuliser really was the source of Victoria’s Holiday Inn outbreak, as the Andrews government has suggested. Meanwhile, the man blamed for spreading the virus by using the nebuliser is pushing for an independent review of his case.
- More than 35,000 of Sydney’s frontline workers will roll up their sleeves to receive a COVID-19 vaccine within just three weeks from Monday.
- Visit our new vaccine tracker, which shows how many people around the world have been vaccinated so far and which countries are leading the charge.
‘Catastrophic’: Cafe owners counting the cost of lockdown
At Prahran’s Reverie cafe, in Melbourne’s inner-east, this morning the croissants have just come out of the oven, but chef Pierrick Boyer is counting the costs of the five-day lockdown.
Boyer says he lost $20,000 over the last three days. “Because we had to pay for the cost of food, labour – and also the minute warning, it wasn’t great,” he told the Today show.
Pierrick Boyer in Prahran.Credit:Simon Schluter
“Last minute we had to cut the roster. We had to close all the stores for the last three, four days. Catastrophic.”
Now we wait: 3400 Victorians in isolation for 14 days
The hard lockdown may have ended, but thousands of people potentially exposed to the virus as a result of Victoria’s Holiday Inn outbreak are still self-isolating. We won’t be completely in the clear until next Friday when the incubation period will end for the majority of those people, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says.
Here’s a quick reminder of the numbers involved in containing the Holiday Inn outbreak in Melbourne, courtesy of the Department of Health:
- There are about 3400 people in isolation right now.
- There are 59 household and primary close contacts of people infected with the virus.
- There are now more than 40 public and private exposure sites.
- There are now 1312 primary close contacts linked to exposure sites.
- All 10 primary close contacts identified at Glenroy Central Kindergarten have tested negative.
- 83 of the 87 primary close contacts at the Goodstart Early Learning Centre also in Glenroy have also tested negative. The remaining five results were expected by the end of Wednesday.
- 103 of the 130 primary contacts linked to two mental health facilities in the northern suburbs have since tested negative, with the rest expected soon.
- 279 of the 340 primary close contacts connected to swimming pools at Oak Park and Pascoe Vale have also tested negative.
- Most of the 138 primary close contacts linked to the Queen Victoria Market have been tested. Their results were expected by the end of Wednesday.
Remember, all those who are considered a primary close contact are required to stay in isolation for 14 days, regardless of their initial test result.
New rules after lockdown in Victoria
Victorians are embracing life after lockdown, once again, this morning. Residents can travel more than five kilometres from their homes. Schools are reopening. Shops are reopening. But masks are still mandatory in indoor public places and there are restrictions on gatherings and home visitors.
Here’s a quick summary of the new rules:
Read more here.
Welcome to today’s coverage
Victorians are waking up to new (old) freedoms after the state’s five-day, ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown and crowds are set to return to Melbourne Park for the Australian Open.
I’m Marissa Calligeros and I will bring you the latest coronavirus updates for much of the day.
Here is a quick look at where we start the day:
- The Australian Open will return to approximately 50 per cent capacity from Thursday, with nearly 7500 people allowed into Melbourne Park per session.
- Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT have lifted travel restrictions for Victorians. But anyone wanting to travel to Western Australia or Queensland from Victoria is still required to quarantine for 14 days.
- Tourism Australia boss Phillipa Harrison has urged governments to accept a higher risk threshold of COVID-19 and learn to live with the virus as the travel industry nervously eyes the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy in March.
- Business leaders have called for clarity on the triggers for and nature of any future lockdowns, citing concerns about the damage to people’s livelihoods and fraying relations with the Victorian government.
- Sydney commuters may soon have to ignore coronavirus social distancing measures during peak hour as the government anticipates a surge in public transport patronage of close to 70 per cent pre-pandemic levels.
Catch up on yesterday’s key developments here: As it happened – Victoria lockdown will lift from midnight as state records zero COVID-19 cases; AstraZeneca boss says vaccine safe for over-65s
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