Three deaths as Victoria eyes lockdown easing

Premier Daniel Andrews is set to announce separate pathways for how and when Melbourne and...
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews. Photo: Getty Images
Victoria has had three coronavirus deaths, while new cases jumped on Tuesday to 28.

The latest fatalities take the state toll to 766 and the national figure to 854.

The new cases are a significant spike on Monday's 11, the lowest Victorian figure since June 16.

But the crucial 14-day rolling average of new cases for Melbourne has continued to fall to 32.8, while it is holding at 1.6 for regional areas.

Melbourne's average has to be between 30-50 for some of its stage four lockdown provisions to be eased next Monday.

"That is absolutely on track for us to be able to take a step on the 28th," Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Cases with an unknown source from September 6-19 are 45 for Melbourne and none for regional Victoria.

The premier also announced that three of the five suburban contact tracing units first announced on September 8 would be in operation over the next few days.

They will be based in the west, northeast and southeast of the city.

The state government also has announced $30 million in upgrades for Victoria's public aged care sector, with the money to be spent on 33 regional facilities and 17 in Melbourne.

There was some good news for Mr Andrews on Tuesday, with a Newspoll showing a majority of Victorian voters back his handling of the state's second wave.

Nearly two-thirds of Australian voters also also rate the state's restrictions as "about right".

The poll for The Australian shows 62 per cent of Victorian voters agree the premier has managed the crisis well despite the hotel quarantine bungle that unleashed the second outbreak.

Thirty-five per cent of Victorians thought Mr Andrews handled the pandemic badly.

The figures come as pressure continues to mount on the premier to speed up his COVID-19 roadmap.

But the premier has yet to confirm whether Melbourne will move to its next step on Monday, which will allow a staged return to school for some students and more workplaces to reopen.

"We will have more to say about that process later in the week," Mr Andrews said.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said Melburnians could not afford to wait until October 26, when more onerous rules such as the 9pm-5am curfew are due to be repealed.

"These numbers dictate a faster, safer reopening," Mr O'Brien said.

"The epidemiologists back it, the modelling backs it. Daniel Andrews needs to start listening to the experts and stop being a one-man show."

It came as the premier claimed fining people in the Casey cluster ultimately could have cost Victoria billions of dollars.

Mr Andrews continues to defend the decision not to issue any fines over the 43-case outbreak in Melbourne's outer southeast.

It emerged last week that some people involved in the cluster had breached lockdown rules by travelling more than 5km from home and visiting other households.

That should have meant a $1652 fine but health officials opted to withhold the penalty to aid contact tracing efforts.

It is also unclear when five suburban contact tracing teams will be operational in Melbourne.

The premier announced the contact tracing boost on September 8 but on Monday was unable to say when they would start.

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