By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong’s Covid-19 cases have remained at 16 over the past week as a swathe of venues such as playgrounds, skate parks, libraries and galleries are set to reopen.
On 24 May, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the timeline for the “cautious” easing of social restrictions.
The relaxation was due to low community transmissions of coronavirus (27) during a 174,00 testing blitz and opening up of restrictions in the past fortnight.
This year, Victoria had tested more than 430,000 people for coronavirus – the highest testing rate in Australia.
“The more you look, the more you find,” Mr Andrews said.
“Because of the large numbers of people coming out being tested we’re confident we’ve got control of this.”
Mr Andrews urged Victorians to ‘stay safe’ – a more relaxed revision from the ‘stay home’ message in recent months.
Social distancing measures would continue as the state’s “Covid-normal” for many months.
“Whilst this is a significant easing of restrictions … this is by no means over.
“We will see more positive cases, we will see more outbreaks.”
The prospect of a vaccine to eradicate the virus was more likely to be years away than months away, he said.
The key was to continue testing at record levels for early detection and curtailing the spread.
“If you wait until people are in ICUs then it’s too late.”
As of 26 May, outdoor playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor communal gym equipment will reopen as students start returning to school.
From 1 June, the limits on home gatherings and outdoor groups rise to 20 people.
Overnight stays will be again permitted at homes and in hotels, motels, campgrounds and caravan parks.
Slightly larger gatherings can also attend weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies.
Libraries, youth centres, men’s sheds, community arts and crafts and community facilities will be opened to up to 20 visitors in a space.
Galleries, musuems, drive-in cinemas, historic sites, zoos and outdoor amusement parks can re-open under the same limits.
The same guidelines apply to re-opened swimming pools and outdoor community sport centres – up to 20 in undivided spaces, without contact or competition.
Nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours, auctions and non-food and drink market stalls will also be back in business.
From 22 June, indoor gyms and sport centres will open – if community transmissions of coronavirus remains low and testing numbers high.
Guests at restaurants, cafes, galleries and museums would rise to 50, and cinemas and theatres would re-open under restriction.
Mr Andrews urged people to continue working from home if possible until at least the end of June. The mass return of workers presented the “greatest risk” for a second wave of Covid-19.
He said mass testing of people with even the mildest symptoms would remain.
He foreshadowed further economic stimulus packages to come
Victoria’s total cases were 1605 – including two new cases, both international travellers in hotel quarantine in the past 24 hours.
None of the new cases were linked to any known outbreaks or clusters in Cedar Meats or aged care facilities.
Nineteen Victorians had died from the virus. Eight are in hospital including three in intensive care.
So far, 1512 people had recovered. There are 64 active cases in the state.
In Greater Dandenong, a 17th case was recorded on 20 May. The total was revised back down to 16 the next day.
Casey’s infections remained steady on 58, and Cardinia on 16.