By Melissa Grant
Schools will reopen as Victoria’s snap lockdown is lifted.
The five-day lockdown will end at midnight today (Wednesday) after no new coronavirus cases were recorded overnight.
The snap lockdown started last Friday amid concerns about the Holiday Inn hotel Covid cluster.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the ending of the lockdown at a press conference on Wednesday morning, saying the “circuit breaker” had worked.
However, masks must still be worn everywhere and household visitor numbers are limited to five.
Public gatherings with friends and family will be limited to 20.
Mr Andrews defended the decision to introduce the Stage 4 restrictions and acknowledged the pain it caused.
EARLIER ON FRIDAY: Schools will be closed as Victoria goes into a hard five-day lockdown.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced Stage 4 restrictions for the entire state at a press conference on Friday afternoon.
The lockdown comes after a growing number of cases linked to The Holiday Inn hotel. The cluster is up to 13 cases, with another two cases linked on Thursday night.
“I am sad to have to report, it is the advice to me that we must assume that there are further cases in the community than we have positive results for, and that it is moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country over the course of these last 12 months,” Mr Andrews said.
Health authorities are also concerned about the UK variant strain, which the premier described as “hyper-infectious” and presenting a real challenge.
From 11:59pm tonight (Friday) until 11:59pm on Wednesday, Victorians can only leave their homes for four reasons.
Those reasons are: shopping for necessary goods and services, essential work or permitted education that cannot be done from home, exercise for two hours a day (with household members or one person not from the household), and caregiving for “compassionate reasons”.
Travel restrictions will also be in place.
“You must stay within 5km of your home other than for permitted work, or if you need to go shopping for things you need when you need them, and you cannot access those things that are, again, common sense tells you if they’re essential, if they can’t wait until Thursday, then you would be permitted to be beyond the 5km limit,” Mr Andrews said.
Schools will close but will remain available over Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for vulnerable children or for the children of those who are permitted to go to work, those who can’t work from home.
Childcare and early childhood centres will remain open.
Outdoor playgrounds will also remain open.
Masks must be worn everywhere.