Melbourne Awaits Lockdown Lift: Two Deaths, 16 New Cases in Vic

Melbourne Awaits Lockdown Lift: Two Deaths, 16 New Cases in Vic
Victorias Premier Daniel Andrews arrives for a press conference in Melbourne, Australia on Sept. 26, 2020. (William West/ AFP via Getty Images)

Victoria has reported 16 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths as Melbourne awaits a relaxation of lockdown restrictions.

Sunday’s statistics take the state’s pandemic death toll to 784 and the national figure to 872.

The 14-day rolling average continues to improve, with 22.1 for Melbourne and 0.6 for regional Victoria.

The 14-day averages for cases with an unknown source have also dropped to 31 for metropolitan Melbourne and zero for regional areas.

The latest data cases comes as the state government prepares to announce what freedoms can the returned to locked down Melburnians.

The state’s “roadmap” out of lockdown announced in early September is due to be tweaked on Sept. 27 following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of the virus.

Many will be hanging on the premier’s words at what has become a sombre tradition of weighty Sunday press conferences.

The two-week rolling daily case average is well under the aim of 30-50.

Under the original plans to take effect from Sept. 28, a 9 p.m. curfew would remain, as well as the five-kilometer travel limit and takeaway-only for restaurants and cafes.

Restrictions around public gatherings would ease to allow up to five people from a maximum of two households to meet outside for social interaction.

Childcare and kindergarten would reopen and some school students would return to classrooms in term four.

The expected easing of lockdown coincides with the dramatic resignation of Jenny Mikakos as health minister on Sept 26.

Martin Foley has been sworn in to replace Mikakos, who quit the day after she heard the premier tell the hotel quarantine inquiry board she was responsible for the Department of Health and Human Services, which was ultimately responsible for running the quarantine scheme.

The hotel quarantine program failed because private security guards breached infection control, causing the spread of the virus into the community and a devastating second wave.

“I am deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in. In good conscience, I do not believe that my action led to them,” Mikakos wrote in her resignation letter.

Mikakos will also be resigning from parliament.

Andrews pushed back on suggestions from reporters on Sept. 26 that he should also resign, saying he would not run from a challenge.

By Marty Silk