Victorian face an anxious wait Wednesday morning as the end of the state’s snap lockdown nears its projected end.
Victoria’s five-day lockdown will notionally end at midnight on Wednesday after being introduced when the highly-infectious UK strain of the virus escaped from a quarantine hotel.
Neither Premier Daniel Andrews or the state’s health authorities, however, have given any guarantees the lockdown will end, and it is not known if the stage-four restrictions will be entirely lifted, or removed in gradual stages.
In the meantime, Victorians are subject to strict curbs on their movements within and without the state, while many businesses have been forced to temporarily close their doors.
Mr Andrews warned on Tuesday that it was unlikely the state would return to the old rules immediately.
“We’ll still have to get tested if we have symptoms. We’ll still have to wear masks in a number of settings. There will still be limits to the number of people that can come to your home,” Mr Andrews said.
“We’re looking to get back to as close to what that resting COVID normal was as we can, but we have to do it safely,” he addd.
Victoria recorded two new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and two infections in hotel quarantine on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 25.
While the number of cases uncovered in the latest outbreak remain low, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Tuesday warned possible ‘mystery’ cases were his biggest concern.
“I’m most concerned about the thing that comes completely out of left-field, that we suddenly see a community case without links to our known cases,” he said.
Meanwhile the national employer association has called for an end to the uncertainty.
“Businesses cannot flick on and off, and despite the positive signs and signals from the government, there remains uncertainty and confusion,” the chief executive of Ai Group Innes Willox said.
International flights into Melbourne have been diverted during the five-day lockdown, and the state government has confirmed flights will not resume on Thursday.
Victoria is examining the building of purpose-built quarantine camps outside the Melbourne CBD, with the Premier stating it presents a “lower risk” than hotel quarantine.
Mr Andrews said on Tuesday his government was “actively pursuing” the construction of a purpose-built quarantine facility to mitigate the risk of taking return travellers.
Mr Andrews said the move had been endorsed by the state cabinet and the centre would probably largely replace the inner-city hotels.
“It has a lesser risk than shared facilities in the centre of Melbourne, where even if people are separated, they’re still sharing the same space,” Mr Andrews said.
“That’s not to say it’s unsafe in any way, but it’s at one risk level. We think by building this purpose-built facility, we can get the risk level down further.”
There have been several outbreaks of the coronavirus from hotel quarantine across Australia in recent months.