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Victoria celebrates its first virus death-free day in more than two months

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Victoria is celebrating its first day without a coronavirus death since July 13 after no fatalities were reported overnight.

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The state also recorded just 42 new cases of the virus – leaving Victoria’s toll at 729 and the national figure on 816.

Queensland has gone for a third day without any community transmission of COVID-19, with just one new case emerging in a person who was already in hotel quarantine.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the single case reported in the 24 hours to 9am on Tuesday took the total number of active cases in the state to 31.

Queensland hasn’t recorded a new incident of community transmission linked to an existing cluster near Ipswich since three cases were reported on Saturday.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has been urging people living in Redbank, Redbank Plains and Goodna to get tested.

“I’m concerned about it, some ongoing risk of transmission, particularly around the Ipswich area,” she said on Monday.

NSW recorded seven new cases overnight: four were in hotel quarantine, two were linked to known cases or clusters, and one worked at Liverpool Hospital and as under investigation.

While the NSW cases will likely see Queensland’s border restrictions remain in place for at least another month, Victorians should get more good news this week, with regional Victorian restrictions set to ease.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today continued to push for restrictions to be eased, particularly along borders, saying “as long as we are closed, we cannot claim success, as a country”.

“If we are shut, we are not living alongside the virus, the virus is actually keeping us from living,” Morrison said.

The 14-day new case average for Melbourne has dropped to 52.9 and it is 3.6 for regional Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged regional Victoria may move to the “third step” of its roadmap plan as early as this week.

That step, allowing people to leave their homes without restrictions and hospitality businesses to reopen, is triggered if its 14-day average remains below five and no “mystery” cases are recorded.

“There won’t be a lot of notice,” Andrews told reporters on Monday.

“That is preferable in making people wait for another week or so.

“Hopefully we can have very good news for regional Victoria tomorrow.”

It came as the Victorian Government unveiled a multi-million dollar package to transform footpaths and streets into open-air dining areas after lockdown.

The $290 million package includes $100 million for sole traders who will remain closed or heavily restricted as the state begins to reopen.

Another $100 million will go towards a Melbourne City Recovery Fund to help small to medium businesses set up outdoors, fund COVID-safe events and cultural activities and make physical improvements to the city streetscape.

Under the state government’s plan, Melbourne’s bars, cafes and restaurants can open for outdoor dining from October 26.

It follows a $3 billion suite of business cash grants, payroll tax deferrals and fee waivers announced on Sunday.

Melbourne will move to its next step of reopening on September 28 if the 14-day average falls to 30-50. It is currently at 54.4.

The city took its first tentative steps out of lockdown on Monday, with those living alone or single parents allowed to have one visitor, outdoor exercise extended to two hours and curfew’s start time extended an hour to 9pm.

Meanwhile, the Queensland government could come under further pressure to ease border restrictions if South Australia decides on Tuesday to reopen that state’s border with NSW and to ACT visitors.

Palaszczuk has consistently referred to border restrictions imposed on NSW and ACT travellers by SA, Western Australia and Tasmania to defend her hard border policy against criticism from political rivals.

The premier promised to speed up the application process for compassionate exemptions on Monday but said she would hold firm on borders, and stake her political future on keeping them shut.

“Now if it means I have to lose the election, I will risk all that if it means keeping Queenslanders safe,” Palaszczuk said.

Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington has criticised the apparent inconsistency of exemptions and has promised, if elected on October 31, to be more compassionate to people wishing to visit dying loved ones or attend funerals.

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