PREMIER Daniel Andrews has brought forward a suite of changes to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria and said the metro-regional border would be lifted on November 9.
The announcement was brought forward on Monday afternoon after 3196 test results were received by the public health team from laboratories across Melbourne's northern suburbs, all of which were negative.
"We took the time to wait to make sure we did not have widespread community transmission and it was worth waiting," Premier Daniel Andrews said.
"A big problem that we did not know about that would have become even bigger if we had pushed ahead with opening without waiting for test results."
On Sunday he announced changes that will come into place across regional Victoria from 11:59pm Tuesday.
There are 91 active cases across the state and zero new cases across the state.
Last time Victoria recorded zero cases was 139 days ago on June 9.
There are seven Victorians in hospital, none of them are in intensive care.
There were 14,024 additional tests carried out since yesterday.
The 14 day average from August 25 - October 25 is 3.6 in Melbourne and 0.2 in regional Victoria.
There are only seven cases now that are mystery cases and they are all in metropolitan Melbourne.
There are just two active cases in regional Victoria and those two cases are from Greater Shepparton.
"For the purposes of travel and movement to COVID safety will still be critical, following the rules will still be critical but that little extra time means that we can align both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria at that time," the Premier said.
"On November 8 we will be able to fully explain to every Victorian in the city and country, what November looks like, and what a COVID-19 Christmas will look like.
"We will have the benefit of having been open for those 10 days and we will be able to complete that picture of what the rest of 2020 looks like.
"Fundamentally, this belongs to every single Victorian, every single Victorian who has followed the rules, stayed the course, worked with me and my team, to bring this second wave to an end. But it is not over.
"This virus is not going away. It is going to continue to be a feature of our lives, it is going to be a feature of our lives every day until a vaccine turns up.
"These are big steps. We have all given a lot, I'm so proud and impressed and humbled by the contribution that so many Victorian families have made, so many Victorian businesses have made, if this is to mean something we have to take our COVID-19 responsibilities to stay safe, and stay open, to stay safe and stay connected, we have to take those responsibility serious.
"It cannot be bending the rules, people on an endless search for loopholes, we are all in this together and just as we have stayed the course, and yes we have stayed apart, but remained fundamentally connected as a strong and united state, we have to be vigilant in the weeks and months to come.
"Until a vaccine comes, there is no normal, there is only COVID-19 normal."
There will also be changes for metropolitan Melbourne from 11.59pm on Tuesday October 27, including all retail opening and restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars reopening for seated patrons as well.
"We are waiting to see how the first stage of opening goes, do we see an increase with cases, we think that also, the virus picture if you like, between Melbourne and regional Victoria, will be much more closely aligned by November 8," he said.
"You might think I feel OK, everything is fine I will sneak over here and do this, it won't be a big problem. I followed the rules all year I'll just do this.
"I'm just making the point, the rules are there for a reason, and in-home gatherings, can be the most dangerous.
"Because it's a perfectly natural thing, people let their guard down, people are happy to see each other, it's not formal, not like going to a cafe or a restaurant where somebody serves you and you set a certain distance away, only so many tables, the place is cleaned to industrial standards, it is a very different environment.
"We will have rules tomorrow that will allow people to reconnect with those they have missed the most, but, if you want to go beyond those rules, you will need to do it outside. And we don't think that is unreasonable because outside is 20 times safer than inside."
The premier said the November 8 date would only be reviewed if Victoria sees a significant spike in cases.
"Barring a day where we have, or a series of days we have very high case numbers, then we will make these changes," he said.
"These changes will occur. If the trend we are seeing now continues, and it doesn't have to be zero every single day between now and the eighth, that is not the strategy we are after.
"If we continue to seize small numbers of cases, we would always like it to be zero, but small numbers of cases and continue dropping the mystery case number, and again, numbers become, this is the point we made a few times, but I will make it again because on a zero day it is more important than ever. The numbers are not the issue, it's the stories that sit behind them."
The total number of cases in Victoria now stands at 20,341. Two cases have been reclassified.
There have been no new deaths from COVID-19 reported since yesterday. To date, 817 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.
"I think there will be rules that will be in place for a long time and we have rules in place to protect people, the vulnerable who die if they get this.
"Others who are perfectly healthy, if they get it can become very sick and who knows what the long-term consequences will be and all the pain that comes from having to lock the place down."
This is an emotional day because people have given a lot, people have done amazing things, extraordinary acts of kindness and commitment and courage, none of this has been easy but Victorians have shown what they are made of, looking out for each other, protecting and caring for each other, but also knowing that this virus does not discriminate, this is not about where you live or what you do for a living, how much money you have in the bank or where your parents were born, this is everybody's business and challenge, and together, as a united state we have been able to bring this under control, a day of zero cases is an amazing achievement."Premier Daniel Andrews
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