Victoria records 510 local COVID cases and one death ahead of slight ease in restrictions

© Getty People queue at a Covid vaccination centre in Melbourne.

Victoria has recorded 510 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and one death, as the state prepares for a slight easing of restrictions.

The death of a person with COVID-19 yesterday marks the ninth coronavirus fatality linked to the current outbreak.

Of the new infections, just 124 have been so far linked to known cases or outbreaks.

They were detected from 55,476 test results processed on Thursday.

It brings the number of active infections in the state to 4,697, with the vast majority of those acquired in the community rather than hotel quarantine.

The number of people in hospital and intensive care units has continued to rise along with infections.

There were 182 COVID-19 patients in hospital by yesterday afternoon, with 29 of the 51 people in intensive care needing ventilation.

Of the people in hospital yesterday, 87 per cent were not vaccinated.

There were 43,993 vaccines administered at state-run sites on Thursday.

Combined with doses given through the Commonwealth’s GP and pharmacy rollout, the state would have hit a 70 per cent first-dose target yesterday, which will be reflected in updated figures today.

Because 70 per cent of the 16+ population has now had at least one dose, the state will move to slightly eased restrictions from 11:59pm tonight.

In Melbourne and Ballarat, the 5-kilometre radius will be lifted to 10kms, outdoor exercise equipment will reopen and residents will be allowed outside for up to four hours during exercise or recreation.

Small picnics will be allowed with strict caps in place — five fully vaccinated people from two households can meet, but only two people can gather if both parties do not have both doses.

A rule banning the removal of face masks to drink alcohol will remain in place.

Regional Victoria, barring Ballarat, will see gyms and swimming pools reopen with limits after already moving out of full lockdown earlier this month.

More significant changes are not expected until more than 70 per cent of the 16+ population has had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with Premier Daniel Andrews expected to unveil a roadmap on Sunday.

Opposition MP James Newbury accused Premier Daniel Andrews of giving the state “crumbs” with the latest measures, calling for clarity sooner.

“He’s allowed two people to go out for a picnic but he wants to control what you drink, it is just ridiculous,” he said.

“He needs to give Victorians hope, he needs to give them a date when kids can go back to school and when business can reopen again.”

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