Andrews offers hope for October roadmap

Melbourne’s roadmap timetable could run ahead of schedule next month as Victoria’s coronavirus numbers continue to plummet.

The state’s total active cases dropped to 482 on Friday, the first time that figure has been below 500 since July 3.

It reached a peak of 7880 on August 11 during Victoria’s second wave.

While Premier Daniel Andrews continues to temper expectations about how the easing of Melbourne restrictions will look on Monday, the next scheduled “step” on October 26 could be changed.

He said the planned October 26 changes, which depend on improving case numbers and include the end of Melbourne’s curfew, might happen earlier in the month.

Mr Andrews will detail next Monday’s changes and also discuss the October 26 phase when he fronts the media on Sunday.

Given Melbourne’s 14-day new case average is now 25.1, well below the 30 threshold, there is no doubt some restrictions will be eased on Monday.

But the October 26 changes are based on the average dropping to less than five.

“The roadmap never envisaged really significant steps at the 28th – but we are on track, the strategy is working,” the premier said.

“I do hope to be able to talk a little bit more about how I think October will unfold and maybe give people some clarity around – because we are ahead of schedule – what might be possible.

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“Again, (that is) always subject to the case numbers.

“What might be possible in the next month, as we move towards that next trigger point, that may be able to occur sooner.”

Under the metropolitan Melbourne roadmap announced on September 6, proposed changes for Monday include a staged return to school for some students and an allowance for pubic gatherings of five people from two households.

Key changes slated for October 26 include the lifting of Melbourne’s curfew and no restrictions on travel from home.

Mr Andrews also said on Friday that he “potentially” could announce changes on Sunday for a number of high-risk industries.

Those changes are not flagged in the roadmap.

He added that the return of international flights to Melbourne, originally scheduled for October 24, will have to wait until the hotels quarantine inquiry hands down its findings.

Mr Andrews was the last witness to front the inquiry on Friday, with its report expected in early November.

“I don’t believe we’ll be receiving international flights until we receive the report – it doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

He added that the state budget’s measures to help Victoria recover from the economic devastation of its two coronavirus waves would be “unprecedented”.

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While Victoria had eight more deaths on Friday, there were only 14 new cases.

The deaths take the national toll to 781 and the national figure to 869.

Regional Victoria’s case average is now just 0.8.

Melbourne’s cases with an unknown source are 34 for September 9-22 and there are none in the regional areas.

Also on Friday, the state government announced more support for senior school students whose study has been impacted by the coronavirus restrictions.

VCAL students certificates will have special consideration to help them finish their study, while anyone unable to finish VET qualifications will have guaranteed enrolment at an institution such as a TAFE.

The measures come after the Andrews government announced support early last month for VCE students.

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