Victoria has recorded two new coronavirus infections and a further two deaths, the state’s first fatalities from the virus for several days.
The figures, which were announced on Wednesday, come after two consecutive days of no new cases or deaths.
The last coronavirus-related death in Victoria was on October 19.
Despite the spike in cases, Melburnians have embraced their freedom after suffering through four months of an excruciating lockdown.
A man is seen out on his morning run in Melbourne on Wednesday, he appeared happy, pulling the peace sign
Some pubs opened at the strike of midnight to long lines, popped champagne and excited guests happy to be out of lockdown
As midnight struck across the long-suffering city, the shackles of Premier Daniel Andrews’ restrictions were thrown off – at least a little.
Two adults from one household can now visit each other’s homes accompanied by any children, reuniting families and best mates at long last.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes are free to open once again, after being closed, and later restricted to takeaway, and many going to the brink of ruin as a result.
Households are restricted to one social gathering per day, meaning those who receive visitors can’t go to someone else’s home that same day.
Pubs, shops and restaurants are allowed to open with 20 people indoors and 50 outside – and these limits will increase in two weeks time.
But hotel operators are concerned strict crowd limits will prevent them from turning a profit.
Tattoo parlours and beauty services are also reopened, in addition to non-contact sport for adults.
Woman in face masks are seen walking as the sun rises over Albert Park Lake in Melbourne as restriction are eased
Pubs, restaurants and cafes are free to open once again, after being closed, and later restricted to takeaway, and many going to the brink of ruin as a result (Pictured: People are seen dining outside St. Ali Cafe in South Melbourne on Wednesday morning)
Residents can gather outside with up to 10 people and there is no longer be any limit on the number of households that can come together at once.
Melburnians had only been able to welcome partners into their homes, or friends via the ‘singles bubble’.
Under the latest arrangements, people will also have to stay within their 25km travel limit – which was expanded from the initial 5km rule.
Mr Andrews described the home as the ‘most dangerous place’ for the spread of coronavirus.
‘I know that jars with people, it may not sound right, but when you think about it, that’s where people let their guard down, where people are not being supervised,’ he told reporters on Tuesday.
People are seen dining inside St. Ali Cafe in South Melbourne on Wednesday after restrictions were finally eased
Men are seen exercising in a park in Melbourne as the break of dawn on Wednesday as restrictions are finally eased
His argument was that homes were not a controlled environment like hospitality venues where social distancing can be enforced and industrial cleaning takes place.
Households were asked to keep a record of who visited their home and when to enable easy contact if an infection emerged.
Mr Andrews encouraged people to wear masks while visiting but conceded it was impossible to enforce.
‘I’m just being frank about it. We’re not going to have police knocking on every door every day, but we just ask people to use some common sense,’ he said.
A group wearing face masks are seen enjoying a beverage at The Cherry Bar in Melbourne’s CBD on Wednesday
Shots! Melburnians celebrate with a rounds of shots poured by a bartender instead of among a few housemates stuck in never-ending lockdown
The restrictions on gatherings at home will remain in place beyond November 8, when the 25km limit and the ‘ring of steel’ separating the city from regional Victoria is lifted.
Masks will remain mandatory outdoors across the state for the rest of the year and probably into 2021, and should be worn inside gyms for most activities apart from running on a treadmill.
The government also released advice that home businesses such as hairdressers will be able to reopen if they have a ‘discrete retail area’.
Cleaners and maintenance workers may attend homes provided they wear a mask and keep to the minimum necessary.
A man looks in a shop window as restaurants and cafes prepare for opening in Melbourne on October 27
There are 87 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, with five in hospital and one in intensive care
Halloween trick-or-treating is permitted on Saturday so long as it’s ‘contactless’, with people still barred from entering property including front yards and doorknocking.
Victoria recorded a second consecutive day of no new cases of coronavirus or deaths on Tuesday. The last time the state reported consecutive days of zero cases was March 5 and 6.
Pictured: Staff member brings heaters outside in preparation of businesses being allowed to reopen
Mr Andrews described the home as the ‘most dangerous place’ for the spread of coronavirus as businesses can enforce COVID-safe rules
Melbourne’s 14-day case average is down to 2.8 and there were six mystery cases in the fortnight to October 24. The corresponding figures for regional Victoria are 0.2 and zero.
There are 87 active cases of Covid-19 in Victoria, with five in hospital and one in intensive care.
From Wednesday, retail will reopen along with cafes, restaurants and pubs, though there are some restrictions on numbers.
Mr Andrews says it’s important Victorians continue to get tested for Covid-19, even if they have only the mildest symptoms.
Cheers! A group of women toast the end of lockdown minutes after midnight when bars were finally able to open legally
The restaurant was fully booked within minutes of the announcement it would open its doors at midnight – with people wearing masks lining up around the block
‘There’s no vaccine, which means getting tested, following the rules, playing your part, making good choices for your family and every family,’ he said.
He conceded there would be new Covid-19 cases and outbreaks, but the state was ‘well-placed’ to manage them.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton claimed the state’s contact tracing was the best in Australia.
‘Our biggest challenge now is complacency,’ he said.
Professor Sutton was confident an outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, which delayed the easing of restrictions by 24 hours, was under control.
Victoria free at last: What are the changes?
From Tuesday 27 October, 11.59pm
All retail, bars and restaurants open with 20 indoors and 50 outdoors
Beauty services and tattoo parlours open
Outdoor contact sport for under 18s back on and non-contact sport for adults
Four reasons to leave home removed
25km travel limit remains in place
Melbourne to regional VIC border remains
Outdoor gatherings up to 10 people
Gatherings can be of more than two households
Weddings increase to 10 attendees, funerals to 20
Church services open with 10 indoors and 20 outdoors
PT, fitness and dance classes can be held outdoors with up to 10 people
Number of people at outdoor pools can increase to 50, subject to density limits
Must work from home if you can
Regional Victoria from 11.59pm October 27
Gym and fitness studios can open for up to 20 people
Twenty people for indoor religious gatherings and 50 people for outdoor religious gatherings
Funerals can have 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors
Indoor non-contact sport returns for children
Indoor pools open up to 20 people
From 8 November
25km travel limit scrapped
Travel to regional VIC allowed
Retail, pubs and restaurants allowed 40 people indoors, 70 outdoors
Funerals allowed indoors with 20 and outdoors with 50
Non-contact sport for U18s allowed indoors
Gyms and indoor fitness will be able to reopen
Holiday accommodation to re-open
Religious gatherings will expand with up 20 people and a faith leader indoors, and 50 outside