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Five-day lockdown to end tonight

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed that the State Government will lift a level-four five-day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown at 11.59pm tonight.

Mr Andrews said while many guidelines would return to what was in place last Friday, some restriction modifications would now apply.

There will no longer be ‘only four reasons to leave home’ or five-kilometre travel limit rules, children can return to school and restaurants and retail shops, community and entertainment and other public places will be able to reopen but be subject to crowd-size limits. Public and private workplaces will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity and sport and recreation activities can resume.

But households will be limited only five visitors until at least Friday week and people must continue to wear masks indoors and outdoors when they can’t socially distance.  Major events will be assessed case by case.

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Here is the Premier's statement:

I’ll cut straight to the chase, today is good news.

Because of the efforts of every Victorian – the sacrifices and the hard slog – we can be confident that slowly, and surely, we are driving the virus into the ground.

It hasn’t been easy or straightforward. In fact, for those Victorians who are part of our health response, it’s been bloody hard work.

3,400 close contacts identified and isolated. Thousands of hours of painstaking interviews.

212,000 tests processed. 850,000 text messages into communities.

An exacting, intricate and exhausting job against a more wicked enemy than we’ve known before.

I want to thank those Victorians who’ve made it possible – and I want to thank every Victorian for their patience.

Because of you, we’ve been able to track, trace and corner this mutant and more infectious strain of the virus.

It also means we’re able to ease most of the restrictions, getting us back to our COVIDSafe Summer.

From 11:59pm tonight, we will largely return to the previous rules – while keeping a watchful eye on some of the riskier settings.

There’ll no longer be four reasons to leave home. The five-kilometre restriction will no longer apply.

Restaurants and retail can reopen. Same too with community facilities, entertainment venues and all other public places – although some additional limits on crowd sizes will be in place.

Students will be able to head back to school. Workers will be able to get back to work.

For offices – both public and private – that means a return to 50 per cent on site.

At the same time, and as we’ve seen in recent days, this virus is very good at finding our weak spot. Getting us when we’re relaxed and comfortable and with the people we love.

So for now, it’s important we reduce the risk in some of our most vulnerable settings.

That means having no more than five visitors to your home per day.  And limiting public gatherings with friends and family to 20.

I know that’ll be hard. After the past 12 months, all any of us want to do is spend time with the people we love.

But by sticking to the rules and being conscious of who we see and how often we see them, we’ll help keep our friends and families safe.

We can’t fully relax the rules in our hospitals and aged care homes yet either – instead, we’ll limit visits limit to one household per day and some specific exceptions.

Masks will continue to be a big part of our defence and will be required everywhere indoors except at home – at the supermarket, at the office, at the pub when you’re getting up to pay.

Masks will also be required outside if you can’t physically distance from others.

Those other defences – checking in when we’re heading out, washing our hands, keeping our distance – will remain just as critical.

So too will the best protection there is: getting tested if you have any symptom, no matter how mild.

Because as much as far as we’ve come, as much as we’ve achieved, without the full-scale rollout of the vaccine – this virus isn’t going away. 

We have every reason to be proud – and every reason to stay safe.

The entire February 17, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!