Victoria on eighth day without virus cases

Tiffanie Turnbull
·3-min read

An enforcement blitz targeting Victorian businesses and workplaces that pose a high risk of COVID-19 transmission is under way, as the state chalks up its eighth consecutive day without a virus case.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the compliance checks - which will be conducted by police, Work Safe and the Department of Health and Human Services - could see stragglers hit with fines of up to $10,000.

"There (have) been quite a number of reports from businesses themselves, workers, and members of the community about how the rules ... that are in place have not in all instances been complied with," he told reporters on Saturday.

"Overwhelmingly Victorian businesses are doing the right thing," Mr Foley said.

"(But) we need to make sure that the enormous sacrifices and the enormous progress that Victorians have made over the course of the pandemic are sustained."

The Health Minister also confirmed Victorians' "extraordinary achievements" over recent weeks would be rewarded on Sunday, with an announcement on the state's next steps out of lockdown.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to scrap Melbourne's "ring of steel" and end the 25-kilometre travel ban, meaning the city's residents will be allowed to travel to regional Victoria.

Travel freedom will expand again when the NSW border reopens to Victorians on November 23.

Minister Foley on Saturday also announced a $9.8 million package for health care workers' wellbeing - which include initiatives geared at frontline workers' physical and mental health, and improving COVID-safe practices in workplaces.

"We have seen clearly increases in stress for not just our health care workers, but their loved ones and their families," Mr Foley said.

"We want to wrap around (the) supports that our frontline health care workers need to sustain their wellbeing, so they can continue to deliver the world's best care."

"This is about caring for those who care for us."

Victoria has now gone eight days with no new coronavirus deaths or cases, with only eight cases still active in the state.

The 14 day average of daily cases is now only 0.9 and there are just two cases with an unknown source.

The state's success in defeating the second wave will see it welcome the first international flights into Melbourne since June 30, with the resumption of direct flights from New Zealand.

Meanwhile, a long-awaited report has suggested improvements to the state's quarantine program.

Among the hotel quarantine inquiry's 69 recommendations is that returning overseas travellers should be able to quarantine at home, potentially with an electronic ankle or wrist bracelet to track movements and enforce compliance.

Candidates would need to have regular tests during the 14-day period and face penalties if found in breach.

The report says home quarantine would be just as effective a hotel quarantine, avoid the risk of putting people in close proximity with suspected cases, and reduce the number of workers required and therefore potentially exposed.

Hotels would still take those unable to quarantine at home, but they would be manned by police and units dedicated to infection prevention and control 24/7,

Staff would also not be allowed to work across multiple quarantine sites or in other forms of employment.

Minister Foley on Saturday said the significant report required a significant response, which the government would announce as soon as it could.

Victoria's second wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths, has been traced to outbreaks among staff at the Rydges and Stamford Plaza hotels.