Victoria records four new cases as Melbourne prepares for first post-lockdown weekend

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Victoria has recorded four new COVID-19 cases, as more than 100 people connected to a childcare centre outbreak remain in isolation and Melburnians prepare for their first weekend out of lockdown.

It comes after the state enjoyed a brief run of zero-case days on Monday and Tuesday before two cases were reported on Wednesday and three on Thursday.

Melbourne residents will enjoy their first weekend with newfound freedoms, but there will no crowds at Flemington for Derby Day and traditional Halloween trick-or-treating is off the cards on Saturday.

The 14-day statewide average has risen slightly to 2.6, up from 2.4 on Thursday. But the number of mystery cases has fallen to two, down from four, for the fortnight to October 27.

The state officially recorded three new coronavirus cases on Thursday, but two are suspected of being instances of viral shedding from old infections. One mystery case with no known source was confirmed on Thursday in Heidelberg West.

A young child connected to Melbourne's northern suburbs COVID-19 cluster was among the three cases, with a childcare centre closed and more than 100 people in isolation.

The child attended the Good Start Early Learning centre on Plenty Road at Bundoora, in Melbourne's north-east, on October 20 and 22. The girl's mother tested positive on October 25, and the girl was quarantined with her family from that date.

Twelve close contacts at the centre, including eight children, have been tested. By Thursday, six children and three staff had tested negative.

How to do a COVID-safe Halloween

The Department of Health and Human Services says it is safer to not to hand out lollies or candy to trick-or-treaters this Halloween, because coronavirus can spread on surfaces, including food or packaging.

Traditional trick or treating where you knock on someone’s door is not permitted.

  • Don’t use communal bowls for lollies or candy. Putting lollies in a shared bowl will mean everyone is touching the same food and surfaces which isn’t safe.
  • Instead, put individually wrapped lollies or candy in bags for non-contact collection.
  • Place bags on your fence, at your front gate or outside your home for collection.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing the bags or individually wrapped lollies or candy.

People must keep at least 1.5 metres away from others they do not live with. This means no hugging, kissing or sharing food or drinks.

As Melbourne prepares for its first post-lockdown weekend, industry heavyweights have urged businesses to follow COVID-safe plans and avoid risking a third wave of the pandemic after photos emerged of some outlets flouting rules when they reopened this week.

Around Melbourne on Wednesday night and Thursday, some people were seen in pubs sitting shoulder-to-shoulder and not social distancing.

Katey Randall, who works for a company that helps businesses become COVID compliant, said she had visited a hairdresser and beauty salon in a private capacity on Wednesday morning and had not been asked to provide any details for contact tracing.

"I think it’s one thing that should be highlighted. Where's the contact tracing?" she said.

Last month – with the government under pressure to relax the lockdown – the Victorian Chamber of Commerce assured authorities that businesses would "take every precaution to prevent" a third wave, and that the hospitality industry should be "trusted" to operate safely.

The chamber's chief executive Paul Guerra said businesses and customers had a responsibility to follow the rules and return to a COVID-normal economy.

"If they continue to exploit the rules, not only would they be outed on social media, they can expect their customers to drop, and worse they can expect relevant authorities to [enforce the rules]," Mr Guerra said.

"No one wants to envisage a third wave, and the only way we can protect against that, is businesses and everyday Victorians doing the right thing."

An Ipsos poll commissioned by The Age and Nine News has found that Victorians are most worried about a third wave of the coronavirus and a further lockdown when thinking about next year, and more than half say the pandemic has affected their mental health.

The poll also shows COVID-19 had disproportionately affected young people’s mental health, with three-quarters of those aged 18 to 24 saying it had been impacted.

The Commonwealth Bank at Northland Shopping Centre was listed as a high-risk exposure site on Thursday. Anyone who was at the bank on Wednesday, October 21, between 10am and 10.30am is urged to get tested.

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