Regional Victoria rules will ease ‘if and when it is safe’

REGIONAL Victoria may eventually follow a different set of coronavirus restrictions to areas where community transmission is high, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged.

Restrictions across the state were tightened at the weekend following an increase in COVID-19 cases.

In announcing the changes, Mr Andrews left open the possibility of regional areas being eased ahead of others.

"We will, if and when it is safe, reopen those communities perhaps with a different set of rules," Mr Andrews said on Saturday.

On Sunday, 19 new Victorian cases were announced, after Saturday's 25 new cases prompted changes to the state's restrictions.

From Monday, only five visitors will be allowed at Victorian homes.

Outside the home, families and friends can meet in groups up to 10.

Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community halls, libraries, museums and places of worship, which were set for increased patronage, will all stay at a maximum of 20 people in any one space until July 12.

Businesses that were set to open on Monday like gyms, cinemas, theatres and TABs can do so, but only with a maximum of 20 people.

Member for Mildura Ali Cupper said in a statement the setback for Victoria's easing showed how quickly things can change with the deadly virus.

"Thankfully, businesses like cinemas, gyms, museums and theatres will still be able to reopen on Monday," Ms Cupper said.

"And importantly - especially for the small-town pubs in my electorate - the need for a meal with a drink is still being lifted.

"It was encouraging to hear Premier Andrews say the government has left the door open for tailored changes to the way restrictions are lifted and there is a possibility of applying restrictions in a geographical sense.

"That could see regional Victorian areas like ours, where there have been no active cases of the coronavirus in a long time, having restrictions eased more quickly.

"I will not pressure Premier Andrews or the government to do anything potentially unsafe, however I will be pushing for them to work with health officials to do whatever possible to lift restrictions in regional areas like ours safely and as soon as possible.

"It is important for us to realise these regressive steps have been deemed necessary by health officials and we need to continue to follow all the rules and regulations in place – for our own safety and for the safety of our community."

Mr Andrews said about half of Victoria's cases since the end of April had come from transmission inside someone’s home.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said there had been more than 100 new cases in the past seven days and the "main cause" was people not following advice about physical distancing, hygiene and limiting visitors.

"We have been very successful so far in avoiding the worst consequences of this disease and we cannot let our good work so far go to waste," Prof Sutton said.

"The message is clear – don’t take this disease lightly – stay home, don’t go to work if you can work from home, don’t visit friends and family, don’t go on holiday."