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Regional Victoria close to moving to Step Three

Regional Victoria could be on track to take “not just one step but two” down its roadmap out of stage three restrictions, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said.

There were 43 new COVID-19 cases confirmed overnight to Friday and nine deaths.

The news comes as regional Victoria’s active cases continue to plummet, with just 72 cases still active as of Thursday and no new cases overnight.

Across the state, 51 new cases were recorded yesterday, bringing Victoria’s total to 19,728. There were 1483 active cases.

There were no new cases in Central Goldfields, Hepburn, Loddon or Mount Alexander shires and the Pyrenees continues to have one active case which was confirmed on August 26.

From midnight this Sunday, regional Victoria will move to Step Two of its roadmap.

The most significant changes in Step Two include that up to five people from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors for social interaction, people living alone and single parents can nominate one person from another household to visit them at home, students will begin a staged return to on site learning in term four, and outdoor playgrounds and pools can open.

Step Three — which would see restrictions lifted on reasons to leave home and allow hospitality businesses to seat patrons outdoors — can be achieved when regional

Victoria averages fewer than five new cases a day and zero cases with unknown sources in the past 14 days, something Premier Andrews said could soon be a reality.

“The rolling average (of new daily cases) from August 27 to September 9 for regional Victoria is 4.5,” he said during his daily update on Thursday.

“That shows us that regional Victoria is quite close to being able to take not just one step but two.

“We need to make sure we continue that trend going forward but those numbers are low and getting lower that means there’ll be an opportunity quite soon to take a step or steps towards that COVID Normal for regional Victoria.

“From the smallest country towns to the bigger regional cities, these numbers are low and that is in large part due to the amazing efforts that regional Victorians have made.”

In larger regional centres Ballarat had eliminated all active cases as of Thursday, Greater Bendigo had two and Greater Geelong 11.

The Colac Otway Shire is the only regional local government area currently with an outbreak of cases, with 127 total and 29 still active.