With just one active case of COVID-19 in Victoria and 22 consecutive days without new infections or deaths, experts predict that face covers will be among the rules relaxed by Prime Minister Daniel Andrews on Sunday

Victoria’s infection-free race sets the stage for Prime Minister to ease restrictions further before state hits 28-day milestone without mystery case widely regarded as the definition of COVID-19 elimination

The last case of unknown transmission in Victoria was recorded on October 29 Extending this streak until Thursday would meet the state government’s goal of “COVID-normal”, which would trigger further easing of restrictions

Although the PM has long advocated masks, the rule requiring them to be worn outside at all times is expected to change Instead, masks would be worn indoors in high-risk environments and outside when people cannot socially distance themselves

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely supported relaxing the mask rule as early as midnight on Sunday

“It’s time to go,” he says “The risk is that we have community transmission, but on Thursday this week there will be 28 days since a case, which fits the working definition of elimination of COVID-19

Deakin University epidemiology professor Catherine Bennett said she suspected the rule would be changed to prevent people from getting tired of the mask

“I hope [Premier Andrews] is confident enough in the risk and behavior of people to buy into it,” she said

Professor Bennett said the risk of contracting COVID-19 outdoors with family and friends was “close enough to zero”

But she said wearing masks indoors would help slow the spread further if the virus started circulating in the community

She said an alternative plan was to wait 28 days without a mystery case, then relax restrictions even further

The COVID-normal trigger point also includes zero active cases in Victoria and no outbreaks of concern in other states or territories

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said on Saturday mask rules should be “relaxed, not removed”

Victoria is set to take her final stage of restrictions on Sunday, allowing gatherings of up to 10 people at home and 50 people outside

The caps on guests inside reception areas will be increased from 40 to 100 people, subject to density limits, while 200 people will be allowed to congregate outside, up from 70

Gyms will be allowed to operate with up to 100 people, although a group limit of 20 people will apply Organized contact sports can resume for all ages, with limitations for spectators

Hotel quarantine will also resume on December 7, five months after the international traveler program closed for triggering Victoria’s second wave

Professor Blakely said one of the lessons learned from Victoria and other states is that hotel quarantine cannot be made 100% risk-free

However, as many Australians sought to return from the northern hemisphere, he said international students from Asian countries should be considered due to low infection rates.

“After Christmas is over we need to be rational about a more serious border policy,” he said

Last day of zero cases comes as Victoria’s daily testing figures have remained above 17,000 for most of the week

Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley provides coronavirus update at St Kilda Botanic GardensCredit: Penny Stephens

“This is one of the other immunosuppressed members of our community who have had the virus for some time,” he said

In South Australia, at least 20 detectives are investigating the Adelaide pizzeria where an employee with a temporary graduate visa lied to contact tracers, plunging South Australia into the country’s toughest lockdown

The worker, who originally claimed to be a customer of Woodville Pizza Bar, is a 36-year-old Spaniard, legally in Australia on a temporary graduate visa that expires in mid-December

The pizzeria in North Adelaide has been under police surveillance since Prime Minister Steven Marshall made the revelations about the worker’s lie on Friday

The lockdown in South Australia is due to end on Saturday evening, three days ahead of schedule after authorities uncovered the pizzeria worker’s lie

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World News – AU – Mask rule could give way as Victoria stands brings COVID-19 elimination closer

Source: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/mask-rule-could-make-way-as-victoria-gets-closer-to-eliminating-covid-19-20201121-p56gop.html