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Andrews told to ‘get on with it’

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has urged Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to hurry up and reopen the state to spark the struggling economy and so that people can return to work.Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday it is now “mathematically impossible” for Melbourne to reach its goal of easing more restrictions as previously hoped by…

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has urged Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to hurry up and reopen the state to spark the struggling economy and so that people can return to work.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday it is now “mathematically impossible” for Melbourne to reach its goal of easing more restrictions as previously hoped by next Sunday if the state records any more cases this week, as he expects will happen.

Mr Frydenberg said it’s time to let Victorians live in similar ways to other states, comparing Victoria to NSW.

“My message to Daniel Andrews is to get on with it,” he said.

“The other day you had more cases in NSW than in Victoria and we know how successful NSW has been in suppressing the virus and allowing businesses to get back and open and get people back to work.”

Single day case numbers are not the focus of the Victorian government, however, the emphasis is on the 14 day average for new cases, and Mr Andrews has now said it’s unlikely the goal of getting that average below five will be met in time.

“I tried to be as clear as I could with people that it did not look likely to me or to any of the team that we’ll get below five by next Sunday,” he told reporters.

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Victoria recorded 12 new cases of coronavirus and one death linked to aged care in the last 24 hours, the first fatality in three days.

Melbourne’s 14-day rolling average has dropped slightly from 9.5 to 9.3, while the number of cases from an unknown source remains the same at 10. In regional Victoria the number sits steady at 0.4. There are 189 active cases including 5 in regional Victoria.

It was hoped the average would drop below five before October 19, at which point restrictions would be eased, but that doesn’t look like happening.

Mr Andrews said there would still be “significant changes” announced next Sunday, but he was “not in a position to detail what they’ll be”.

“There will be steps that will be able to be taken next Sunday,” Mr Andrews said.

“They will not be as big as steps that we would have perhaps hoped, but they will be significant, and they will allow us to move more freely, allow us to connect more easily to the love the most, those we miss the most.”

When asked about lifting the restrictions that prevent Melburnians venturing farther than a five kilometre radius of their home, Mr Andrews said it was “on the table … because everything is on the table” to be eased from October 19.

He also hinted there could be a lift on the amount of people allowed to gather outdoors, and said that the government will “spend quite a bit of time thinking about what‘s a safe group size for people outside, to be able to join each other and to be part of the thing that we crave the most, and that‘s some of the connections that we have been deprived.”

At yesterday’s press conference Victorian Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton said the 5km rule was “ up for evaluation”.

“It has provided its benefit, it has reduced the number of contacts that you can potentially meet and it has reduced the distance that the virus can travel – but it should be up for evaluation,” he said.

Mr Andrews added that “there may be some more things we can do” in regional Victoria, including potentially lifting some restrictions on businesses.

He also announced he had signed an order extending Victoria’s state of emergency and the state of disaster by a further four weeks until 11:59pm on November 8.

This was being done out of an “abundance of caution”, Mr Andrews said.

New rules will come into force in Victoria from midnight tonight, with close contacts of a coronavirus case ordered to complete 14 days of isolation now must take a COVID-19 test on day 11 or complete a further 10 days of quarantine.

Businesses in regional Victoria must also take “all reasonable steps” to establish if a customer is from regional Victoria and will face a $10,000 fine for failing to comply with this rule, which is now part of the COVID-safe plan.

Workers permitted into regional Victoria for employment purposes will also face a $5000 fine if they don’t “act appropriately”.

There have been five new cases of coronavirus diagnosed in NSW up to 8pm on Saturday.

Of those, two are returned travellers in hotel quarantine and three were locally acquired, one with no known source.

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.