Greater Bendigo appears on track to meet step two of the new plan on schedule, Bendigo Health chief executive Peter Faulkner says.
"I'm pleased that the state is taking a two roadmap approach," he said, referring to Melbourne and regional Victoria's plans.
"I do recognise it is still going to be difficult for many, many people."
Greater Bendigo now has just four active cases, the same number it had in the days before infection rates exploded into the second wave.
Assuming there are no more cases, the area could be COVID-19 free within seven to 10 days, Mr Faulkner said.
However, the risk of easing lockdowns will increase the risk of infections, he warned.
"It requires us to still do all the right things."
That means following health directives and getting tested if you have even the mildest of symptoms.
Some details on what comes next:
Beyond the small concessions allowed next week from September 13, essentially regional Victoria will have to wait for lower numbers to allow the Stage Two restrictions it enjoyed in June.
This is detailed as the third step in the roadmap when daily average number of cases must be less than five new cases over the last 14 days in Regional Victoria and no new cases in Regional Victoria with an unknown source in the last 14 days.
The key changes reaching this Step Three will allow:
- No restrictions on leaving home
- Spend time with others outside where possible
- Public gatherings: up to 10 people outdoors
- Visitors allowed at home from 1 other household (up to 5 people)
- Schools return to onsite learning from Term 4 with safety measures
- Hospitality open for predominately outdoor seated service only
- All retail open, except personal care (hairdressers open)
- No date has been set for this step.
The last stage, when public gatherings increase to 50 people outdoors or 20 visitors at home, when schools are open for onsite learning and hospitality is open for seated service, has been flagged for November 23 when there are no new cases for 14 days across Victoria.
Regional Victoria will move to COVID Normal or without restrictions subject to public health advice, when there are no new cases for 28 days and no active cases (state-wide) and no outbreaks of concern in other States and Territories.
GREATER Bendigo's case numbers have dropped to four, premier Daniel Andrews has revealed shortly before outlining Victoria's roadmaps out of lockdown.
According to a state government media release, some changes will begin from 11.59pm on Sunday, September 13.
Regional Victoria's case numbers are now sitting at 98, well down on the more than 500 active infections witnessed at the height of the second wave.
From 11:59pm on 13 September, people living alone and single parents should be able to have a "bubble" for people living alone and single parents.
"This would allow more isolated Victorians to nominate one other person to help them through this - a friend or family member that can visit them in their home, Mr Andrews said.
"Up to five people will be able to gather together in outdoor public places - the park, the beach - up to a maximum of two households. By limiting it to two households, we're again limiting the virus's ability to spread."
Outdoor pools and playgrounds in regional Victoria will also open.
Religious services will be conducted outside with a maximum of five people, plus a faith leader.
"For schools and students, we'll begin a staged return to onsite learning from term four," Mr Andrews said.
"All VCE and VCAL students - in Melbourne and regional Victoria - will attend onsite for the General Achievement Test and other essential assessments from 5 October.
"In regional Victoria, all students will return to onsite learning between 12 and 16 October and in Melbourne, VCE and VCAL students and Prep to Grade 2 will also return for onsite learning from the 12 of October."
People in metropolitan areas will be under stage four lockdown for an extra two weeks, though there will be some changes.
All numbers will ultimately depend on ongoing active case numbers, which are still higher than health authorities are comfortable with if the goal is to get to zero cases by Christmas.
Why lockdown will be eased carefully
"This is less than we'd like to do. We'd all like to open up as quickly as possible. But that is not the nature of this virus," Mr Andrews said.
He pointed to Colac, a regional town that has witnessed case numbers balloon from one to 24 in "just a few days".
Mr Andrews wants to avoid further lockdowns triggered by any reopening plan.
"We can't run out of lockdown, we have to take steady and safe steps out of lockdown to find that covid normal," he said.
"We must take steady and safe steps to find covid normal and make sure that in opening up we can stay open.
"The way we have arrived at those industries being able to resume is a difficult set of judgments that weigh up the risk and economic benefit.
"We believe we have struck a balance, not a perfect balance, there's no such thing, and some industries will be disappointed."
Where Bendigo is at right now:
Active cases in Greater Bendigo dropped to six on Saturday and then four today. It is the lowest since Saturday 25 July, back in the early days of the second wave of infections.
All other central Victorian local government areas numbers are also at pre-second wave levels, including the hard-hit Macedon Ranges.
At the height of the second wave, Macedon Ranges had 32 active cases in a single day. Greater Bendigo had 57.
- With the Ballarat Courier
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