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Victoria has recorded the lowest daily COVID result in a month - so when does lockdown end?

Stage four lockdown in Melbourne, a city of five million, is due to end in less than a month. 

As the number of new daily infections continues to decrease, Victoria's extreme efforts to slow the spread of the deadly infection are starting to show promising signs. 

On Tuesday, Victoria recorded 222 new cases, marking the third consecutive day of numbers below 300 and the lowest daily result in over a month. 

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But how likely is it for the lockdown to end per planned? Here's everything we know about how restrictions will ease in Australia's epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. 

When does stage 4 lockdown end in Melbourne?

Stage four lockdown is due to end at 11.59pm on Sunday, September 13. The State of Emergency has been extended to the same time, and regional Victoria's stage three lockdown will also end then. 

On Sunday, the Premier was asked by reporters if this was still the plan. He said he was 'cautiously optimistic' that restrictions will ease mid-September.

"It depends on how hard we all work right now to get to that point. It's one day at a time," Andrews said.

“I am always very cautious but there is, on my part at least, a cautious optimism and a sense of real hope that this strategy is working and that we are seeing numbers fall now.” 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he is cautiously optimistic that restrictions will ease come mid-September. Image: Getty. 

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“Ultimately those rules are only as good as the many millions of individual choices and decisions that individuals and families make every single day,” he said.

"So not breaking those rules, not going out, not being out after curfew, not ignoring symptoms and waiting two to three days and then maybe getting a test or maybe not, all of those really personal choices, that is what makes the rules work, that is what makes the strategy work."

What happens after stage 4 lockdown?

Daniel Andrews says it is "unlikely" coronavirus will be entirely eliminated from the community. 

"Even when this second wave is over, we will still see cases, we will still see outbreaks, that is a function of this thing," Andrews warned. "The notion of completely extinguishing it and never seeing it again, I think that it would be an unlikely outcome."

On Tuesday, Professor Nancy Baxter, the head of Melbourne University's School of Population and Global Health, explained to ABC Radio the likely circumstances of post-stage-four lockdown. 

Whilst Baxter acknowledged that cases are decreasing, she explained that "the second wave always takes a lot longer to come down and people have to be in for the long haul." 

"I'm not sure if we will ever get beyond stage 2, I think we will always be in a stage 2.2, a stage between 2 and 3, until we get a vaccine," she told the public service broadcaster.

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"What we've shown is that mask-wearing works. So we are going to be in masks for a long time. Even if we get down to stage 1.5 we will be wearing masks."

Professor Baxter also signalled that Melbourne "won't be able to be like other states" for quite some time. It also is likely that routine testing for hotel quarantine staff and aged care staff - two sectors that have contributed significantly to the spread of coronavirus - will be introduced. 

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"Everybody in aged care would need to be tested once a week because the real challenge with COVID-19 is it spreads before people develop symptoms, so it spreads far and wide before people know they are spreading it," Professor Baxter told ABC Radio.

What restrictions will ease first?

Professor Brett Sutton, Victoria's Chief Health Officer, has answered this question specifically, explaining that it depends on "what the data says".

“It may mean we can ease up in areas we know are not contributing to transmission.”

He ensured Victorians that the easing of restrictions will consider the mental toll of the extreme lockdown.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton. Image: Getty. 

"I am very mindful of the fact that [isolation] is a burden everyone is carrying and some people will be really struggling with it," he explained. 

“It’s a fine balancing act. We may move to a point where people can have visitors, but we need to balance that with transmission risk.

“We won’t be jumping to 10 people in a home.”

As experts worldwide have said since the start of the pandemic, the world needs to find a new 'COVID-normal' until there is a vaccine for the infectious illness.

Feature image: Getty. 


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