Mask rules ease as Vic has COVID-free week

·2-min read

Mask rules will ease in workplaces, dancefloors can reopen and crowds will increase at public events in Melbourne under the state's latest easing of restrictions.

Health Minister Martin Foley confirmed that from 11:59pm on Thursday, Melbourne will move to the same restrictions currently in place in regional Victoria.

Masks will no longer be required at schools and in workplaces where staff are not interacting with the public, such as factories and offices.

Stadiums can have 75 per cent crowd capacity, or up to 40,000 people outdoors and 7500 indoors, and theatres can also open to 75 per cent capacity, or up to 2000 people.

Dancefloors will also be allowed to reopen, capped at 50 people.

Retail, hospitality and other venues will be able to increase their capacity to one person for every two square metres, while patrons can return to drinking while standing.

But home gatherings remain restricted to 15 people.

The restrictions will be in place for at least 14 days.

Paul Guerra, the head of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it was "brilliant" office workers could remove their masks at their desks.

"(It) will really help to get people back at work and support the surrounding businesses which is what we need for Victoria to come roaring back," he said.

However, he told a Melbourne Press Club event there would be no certainty for businesses while lockdowns continue to be used to control the virus.

"We've been in crisis for 14 months and that crisis doesn't stop today, it won't stop until we're vaccinated," Mr Guerra said.

He criticised the federal government's vaccine rollout.

"This is a race and we have lost our position as the envy of the world," Mr Guerra said.

"Other countries are opening up and now getting on with their lives and their economies are roaring back. We can and we need to do the same."

Victoria's allocation of vaccines is expected to drop in the next six to eight weeks, due to supply issues.

The easing restrictions come as Victoria recorded its first full week of no COVID-19 community transmission since the beginning of its fourth lockdown.

There are now 24 active coronavirus cases in the state, of which five are locally acquired, Acting Chief Health Officer Deb Friedman said.

But the virus continues to spread outside of the state and red zone classifications remain for Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Brisbane, Morton Bay and the Sunshine Coast.

Perth and Peel in WA, Darwin and Alice Springs in the NT and large parts of Queensland remain declared orange zones.

Professor Friedman said authorities were concerned about the number of Victorians returning home from red and orange zones over the next fortnight.

Authorities checked on 365 people meant to be isolating on Tuesday, the majority of them from NSW.

Four were found not to be isolating and investigations are underway.

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