Victoria’s shackles off after circuit-breaker quells cluster

Victoria’s five-day lockdown will end on time, with authorities confident the “circuit breaker” has helped contain the Holiday Inn outbreak.

Feb 17, 2021, updated Feb 17, 2021
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media. (Photo: AAP Image/James Ross)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media. (Photo: AAP Image/James Ross)

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the snap lockdown would lift at 11.59pm on Wednesday as planned, although some restrictions will be tightened.

The decision was rubber-stamped in a meeting of senior government ministers on Wednesday morning after the state recorded no new COVID-19 cases.

Victorians were locked down under stage-four restrictions on Friday as health officials sought to slow the spread of a growing cluster stemming from the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport.

The four reasons to leave home order – limiting travel to essential work, shopping, care and exercise – will be repealed along with the 5km radius rule.

Masks will remain mandatory indoors and outdoors where social distancing isn’t possible and the home gathering limit has been tightened to five visitors, down from 15.

Up to 20 people can meet for outdoor public gatherings, while workforce capacity in the private and public sector will ramp up to 50 per cent.

Schools will reopen on Thursday after shutting down for three days and closed retail and hospitality businesses can resume trading.

Hospitals and aged care home visits will be restricted to one household per day with some exceptions.

Andrews said health authorities would soon settle on a final crowd figure for the final days of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

He said he could not guarantee Victorians that lockdowns were a thing of the past after enduring its third in less than 12 months.

“I’m not prepared to pretend to the Victorian community that this is over,” the premier told reporters on Wednesday.

“There can be some notice period but we don’t have the luxury of giving people a month’s notice.

“I’m just not in the business of ignoring advice, or shopping around for advice that suits me.”

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the state could not afford to keep going in and out of lockdown.

“We can’t keep having this yo-yo where we open then close, then open again. We just need to get it right,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“If the government gets it right, we can all get on with our lives.”

Almost 40,000 test results were received in the 24 hours to midnight on Tuesday and there are 25 active cases across the state.

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