NEWS

National News

No new cases, Victoria eases restrictions

Victoria's landmark day of no coronavirus cases or deaths is about to put Melbourne back in business.

Coupled with the results from a testing blitz on a northern suburbs outbreak, the state's first clean slate of cases and deaths since June 9 has been the catalyst for a dramatic easing of lockdown restrictions.

Premier Daniel Andrews' voice croaked with emotion on Monday afternoon as he announced the changes, headlined by the reopening of Melbourne retail and hospitality venues.

More changes are slated for November 8, particularly the end of the so-called "ring of steel" separating the capital from regional Victoria.

Asked about his reaction, Mr Andrews said: "Look, it has been a very difficult year and Victorians have given a lot."

"I am proud of every single one of them.

"Why it's emotional today is because people have given a lot, people have done amazing things."

Getting "back on the beers" has become a catchphrase of the premier's daily lockdown briefings.

"I don't know I will be drinking a beer tonight - I might go a little higher on the shelf," he said.

But the fight is far from over as the state emerges from a second wave that has devastated its economy.

Of Australia's 905 coronavirus deaths, 817 are Victorian and the majority occurred during the second outbreak.

Masks will remain a feature of daily life, while there is no indication when Melbourne workers can return to offices and the state's borders remain closed.

Victoria's contact tracing also continues to be a hot topic, with a key family in Melbourne's northern suburbs cluster frustrated by the directions they received from the health officials.

They say some members were cleared to leave isolation two days before their Year 5 boy returned to school while infectious and spread the virus.

Health department testing boss Jeroen Weimar strongly denied a mix-up but acknowedged an apparent misunderstanding.

Mr Andrews has been under intense pressure to ease restrictions, while an inquiry continues into the botched hotel quarantine program widely believed to have sparked Victoria's second wave.

"There will be scars on the psyche of this state that will not heal," said opposition leader Michael O'Brien.

But amid the ongoing issues, Monday marked a significant shift in Victoria's coronavirus campaign.

Melbourne retail and hospitality businesses finally begin trading again from midnight on Tuesday, with a "dark" reopening effective immediately so staff can prepare.

There will be a maximum of 20 people seated indoors for hospitality venues, with 10 per space and 50 outdoors.

Beauty, personal services and tattoo parlours will also reopen.

People can visit other houses with much more freedom, although details will be revealed on Tuesday, and there are other widespread changes across categories including outdoor fitness and religious gatherings.

"Fundamentally, this belongs to every single Victorian, every single Victorian who has followed the rules ... worked with me and my team, to bring this second wave to an end," Mr Andrews said.

"But it is not over. This virus ... is going to be a feature of our lives every day until a vaccine turns up. These are big steps."

Monday's DHHS figures showed average daily diagnoses over the past fortnight down to 3.6 for Melbourne and seven mystery cases from October 10-23.

The corresponding figures for regional areas are 0.2 and zero.

Equally important, the testing blitz confirmed the northern suburbs outbreak that delayed Monday's announcement by 24 hours is under control.

Mr Andrews' media conference was held back until mid-afternoon as the government awaited the results.

More than 4000 tests across the affected area have all come back negative.

All Victorian students are now back in the classroom, 163,000 of them from Year 8-10 in Melbourne returning to on-site learning on Monday.

© AAP 2020