Covid restrictions ease in Victoria

Flinders Street station in Melbourne. File photo: Getty
Flinders Street station in Melbourne. File photo: Getty
Victorians can now travel freely across the state as restrictions ease for Melbourne and regional residents.

Melburnians are no longer subject the 25km travel limit and can enter regional Victoria for the first time in three weeks after the state's fourth Covid-19 lockdown.

Under the raft of rule changes from Friday, Melbourne residents can host two adult visitors plus their dependents per day and gather outdoors in groups of 20.

Masks remain mandatory indoors, but are only required outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

Businesses such as gyms and indoor entertainment venues can reopen, while density limits at offices, cafes, restaurants and pubs have increased.

In regional Victoria, the home visit cap is up to five adults plus their dependents per day, while up to 50 people can gather outdoors.

Restrictions are likely to ease again in a week's time if cases remain low, with no new local infections reported on Thursday.

The national Covid spotlight has shifted north as Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton declared three Sydney areas "orange zones" under Victoria's permit system amid a growing outbreak.

Those planning to enter Victoria from the City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra council areas must now obtain a travel permit, get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Professor Sutton's border reclassification call came as he came under fire for reportedly flying to Canberra for a National Health and Medical Research Council awards night on Wednesday.

It is believed he was attending the event in a work capacity, meaning he would not have contravened any restrictions.

But Shadow Health Minister Georgie Crozier questioned the optics.

"We can't have people coming to our own homes and yet the chief health officer, who is providing advice to the government, buzzes off to Canberra to a glitzy award night," she told reporters.

"That says a lot about the priorities of the chief health officer and of the Andrews government."

Meanwhile, an "operational error" has been blamed for a Covid-positive nurse working shifts at a second Melbourne hospital.

Victoria's testing commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed the woman, who had been treating the state's three hospitalised Covid-19 cases at Epping Private Hospital, also worked on June 11 and 12 at Epping's Northern Hospital while possibly infectious.

Staff working on a Covid ward and dealing directly with virus patients are not supposed to work elsewhere, and the error has potentially exposed an additional 27 Northern Hospital healthcare workers and others to the virus.

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