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Testing widens as Vic restrictions ease

por Winona O'Farrell (2020-07-07)


Victorians will be able to have a pint without the parma as coronavirus restrictions ease across the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday as of 11.59pm on June 21, pubs and clubs will be able to serve drinks without a meal for up to 50 people, while cafes and restaurants will also be able to increase their capacity to 50 patrons.

People will still need to provide their contact details to venues and table service restrictions will apply.

The same increased limit will apply to galleries, museums and amusement parks, as well as libraries, community centres and halls, cinemas, concert venues, theatres and auditoriums.

Standalone TABs will also reopen, while TABs in pubs will need to adhere to venue restrictions on patron limits.

Youngsters will be able to get back to playing sport from Monday week as training and competition reopens for 18-year-olds and under, while non contact sport will be allowed across all age groups.

Indoor sports centres and gyms will be able to open to 20 people per space, with a cap of up to 10 per group for those over the age of 18.

Local footy teams, soccer clubs and other contact sports will be able to resume training for over-18s from July 13, and from July 20, full competition can kick off.

Clubs and community facilities will be able to reopen their changerooms for returning players.

The same will apply to holiday accommodation and camping sites, with communal spaces like showers and kitchens to become available to visitors.

The Victorian ski season will officially begin from June 22, with all accommodation given the green light to open.

From July 20 electronic gaming at pubs, ?????? clubs and the casino will reopen with social distancing rules and hygiene requirements in place.

Mr Andrews reiterated the government's message that if Victorians can work from home they must until at least the end of June.

The premier said the National Cabinet on Friday agreed the strategy around the virus was suppression, not elimination, and warned there would be more cases to come.

"We are going to see more cases, we are going to see outbreaks. That's what a suppression strategy is all about," Mr Andrews said.

"If we had pursued a different strategy to eliminate this virus, then there would have been no opening up over recent weeks."

The announcement about eased restrictions comes as Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said targeted testing would be increasing in areas that had lower testing rates.

"We're going to focus on some regional communities that have had low testing rates to date, like Mildura and Kyabram, as well as some of our suburbs such as Dandenong and Brimbank," she told reporters.

The targeted testing program will run until the end of August and as well as zoning in on areas with lower testing rates, will also focus on communities with higher case numbers, high-risk workforces and vulnerable groups.

Other areas to be targeted include inner-city Melbourne, Moreland City Council, City of Melton, Colac, Otway Shire, City of Whittlesea, Surf Coast Shire, Hume City and Wyndham City.

Victoria recorded nine new coronavirus cases since Saturday, bringing the state's total to 1720.

Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said three of the new cases were return travellers in hotel quarantine, while five were close family contacts of a GP who had recently tested positive, and one identified through routine testing.

There are currently six people in hospital with the virus, including two patients in intensive care.

19 people have died from COVID-19 in Victoria and 1657 people have recovered.