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Victoria has recorded no new cases of COVID-19 as Victorians heeded pleas from health authorities to get tested.
There were 25,635 test results processed across the state on Wednesday, substantially up from 17,538 the day before.
Six new locations were added to the Victorian government’s list of public exposure sites late on Wednesday night, including a Crown Casino restaurant and a screening of Disney film, Cruella.
A person who later tested positive to coronavirus spent Saturday evening at Crown casino, dining at 400 Gradi Crown and spending some time in the cinema foyer before and after the 7.30pm movie screening. Anyone who attended the movie, which has been listed as a tier-1 exposure site, must get a COVID-19 test and isolate for 14 days.
A Pascoe Vale petrol station was also added to the list, taking the number of current exposure sites to 146 on Thursday morning.
The new sites were listed ahead of an easing of restrictions at 11.59pm on Thursday.
The 25-kilometre travel limit for Melburnians will be dropped and masks will no longer be mandatory outdoors.
Melburnians will be able to host up to two people plus dependents in their homes each day, while regional Victorians can welcome up to five visitors and their dependants. Melbourne’s gyms will be able to reopen, with strict density limits.
Melbourne infectious diseases physician Michelle Ananda-Rajah told The Age on Wednesday that until vaccine uptake rose substantially, testing remained the most critical measure in Victoria alongside contact tracing to avoid another mass outbreak, but she feared “coronavirus fatigue” was leading to a drop in testing numbers.
“Victoria is a powder keg that could blow at any time,” Dr Ananda-Rajah said. “Right now, we are primed for a third wave because we are largely unvaccinated against the disease. Winter is here and we know infections go up at this time. On top of this, we’ve got more transmissible variants of the virus in the mix.”
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said testing needed to become the norm for Melburnians, who would probably need “to test once or twice or three times” this winter.
Winter holidays are also top of Victorians’ minds, with school holidays due to start when the final term 2 bells ring on Friday, June 25.
Queensland Health is still “monitoring the situation” in Victoria, and has refused to confirm whether restrictions will be lifted before Victorian school holidays begin.
“With Victoria announcing yesterday they will continue to have some local restrictions in place, the hotspot will remain in place for Greater Melbourne at this time,” a Queensland Health spokesperson told The Age on Thursday morning.
“We will review the border restrictions for Greater Melbourne as Victoria continues to ease restrictions locally.
“Anyone who has been in Greater Melbourne in the last 14 days is only able to enter Queensland if they are a returning Queensland resident or required to enter for a limited range of essential reasons.“
NSW Health has also listed Victoria as an affected area, which means anyone travelling to the state from Victoria must complete a self-declaration when crossing the border, while anyone who has visited an exposure site cannot enter NSW.
Northern Territory lists all Melbourne council areas as declared hot spots which demands anyone travelling to the territory from those areas needs to undergo 14-days quarantine.
Tasmania lists regional Victoria as a low risk so residents from those areas can enter the state as long as they register with the Tas e-Travel system while metropolitan Melbourne is listed as high-risk so anyone who has been in Melbourne in the past 14 days cannot enter Tasmania unless they are an essential traveller.
Western Australia requires anyone from Victorian to do 14 days of mandatory quarantine upon arrival in the state.
South Australia won’t allow anyone residents of greater Melbourne to enter and returning residents need to quarantine for 14 days. People from regional Victoria can travel to the state but need to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and isolate until they receive a negative result.
With Melissa Cunningham
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