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Covid Victoria: New case in Melbourne linked to NSW coronavirus cluster

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Victorians are on alert after a man who flew in from NSW tested positive to coronavirus, with Melbourne Airport now among new exposure sites.

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A Victorian man in his 60s, who flew into the state from NSW, has tested positive to coronavirus.

The infected man, who lives in Oakleigh and works as a dry cleaner in Sandringham, caught Jetstar flight JQ523 on June 20, leaving Sydney at 5.30pm and arriving in Melbourne at 7.40pm.

Anyone who was in Terminal 4 between 6.55pm and 7.40pm on June 20 must get tested and isolate for 14 days from the time of exposure.

Anyone who visited Sandringham Dry Cleaners, on Bay Rd, on June 23, from 7.30am to 5.30pm, on June 22, from 10am to 3pm, or on June 21, from 9am to 4pm must also get tested and quarantine for 14 days from the time of exposure.

Interviews are under way, but acting Premier James Merlino confirmed the new case would not impact planned easing of restrictions in Victoria.

Another local case was recorded earlier on Thursday, a known primary close contact linked to the Kings Park complex.

That person has been quarantining throughout their infectious period.

Three new cases were recorded in hotel quarantine over the past 24 hours.

The state now has 52 active cases and 22,812 test results were received.

Health Minister Martin Foley said given the patterns of the Delta variant‘s concern spreading around Sydney, the government was taking a “conservative approach” and working on the basis it was the same strain.

“The advice I have, hot off the press as it were, is that he displayed symptoms late on Tuesday night,” Testing Commander Jeroen Weimar said.

“What that end means for his infectivity, we are working through that as we speak.”

Mr Weimar said the man attended his daughter’s house in Sydney for an event over the weekend, which at the time was listed as a green zone.

The man arrived in Melbourne on a 5.30pm flight from Sydney on Sunday. He developed symptoms at 10pm on Tuesday night and got tested on Wednesday.

The Department of Health was notified of positive result on Thursday morning.

“We are obviously working through his movements on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” Mr Weimar said.

Mr Weimar said exposure sites would be updated on Thursday afternoon.

“There’s a lot of work for us to do,” Mr Weimar said.

Victorian authorities are still investigating at which Sydney event the man caught the virus.

It’s not confirmed whether he attended a birthday party in West Hoxton, which has since been deemed a superspreading event by NSW authorities, or at another party.

NSW Health hasn’t yet spoken to the infected individual.

It’s not yet known if the man’s family member has tested positive.

Mr Weimar confirmed the man likely interacted with customers at work.

“This is a rapidly developing situation in NSW,” Health minister Martin Foley said.

He said now was “not the time for selfish behaviour”.

“Anyone who puts the health and safety of the Victorian community at risk will be held to account by our authorities,” he said.

GREATER SYDNEY NOW A RED ZONE

More than six million Sydney residents will be barred from entering Victoria from Friday after the Acting Premier deemed the city a red zone.

On Wednesday, James Merlino declared seven local government areas in Sydney were red zones, but extended that on Thursday to include all of Greater Sydney and Wollongong.

The red zone classification will be in place from 1am on Friday, just as Victoria eases restrictions brought about after its two-week lockdown earlier this month.

Read the full story here

NEW MASK RULES FOR WEDDINGS

Brides and grooms will be forced to don a mask as they walk down the aisle.

Acting Premier James Merlino moved to clarify on Thursday that the masks mandate would extend to couples tying the knot indoors.

“It depends on the nature of the service — if the service is indoors then I would imagine the answer is yes,” he said.

Liberal MP Brad Battin slammed the rule as nonsensical.

“Imagine on the happiest day of your life, your smile in every photo is covered by a mask. The Andrews Labor government has no heart,” he said.

“It makes no sense to wear a mask on your wedding day.”

Mr Battin added: “I hope you can remove the mask for the traditional kiss after your vows”.

FURTHER LOCKDOWNS NOT RULED OUT

Chief health officer Brett Sutton had earlier refused to rule out future lockdowns as Victoria prepares to take another step out of restrictions.

The relaxed restrictions, from Friday, will remain in place for at least two weeks before any further easing.

Professor Sutton on Wednesday said the state was in a “more stable” position to ease restrictions, but added: “It’s not a signal that it’s all behind us.

“There are continuing challenges through this winter and this week.”

It was hoped that within two weeks the state could return to the same “Covid normal” settings in place before lockdown.

Under those settings, Victorians would be free to move around, with no restrictions or crowd caps for venues, gatherings and home visits.

“That’s clearly again our aspiration. We need to see it play out over the week and fortnight ahead, but wouldn’t it be good if we can get there,” Prof Sutton said, acknowledging people had been “appropriately” more frustrated and angrier during this lockdown.

But business leaders have slammed the restrictions as a “bunch of complications”.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said most industries would continue to “crawl” out of restrictions despite no community transmission.

“We should’ve taken a giant leap out of restrictions … As of Friday morning, every Victorian can fly to Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Auckland and enjoy a restriction-free lifestyle that they can’t enjoy in Victoria,” he said.

Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang said the “confusing” restrictions were a burden on already-struggling industries.

“The ongoing slow easing of restrictions seems more based on the gut feel of Professor Sutton … These rules make no sense (and) they are needlessly complex,” he said.

While there’s some relief for footy and theatre fans, organisers of small-scale events such as exhibitions are pleading for the same treatment. Save Victorian Events spokesman Simon Thewlis said smaller functions brought the most benefits to the community.

“The government seems focused on sports and a few major events. They’re the ones that provide good photo opportunities and bragging rights,” he said.

Tipico restaurant co-owner Marco Scalisi welcomed the small increase in customers, but said density quotas could not continue into the future.

“It’s not sustainable long term. We have tables and chairs empty because of this rule,” he said. “We need to fill our space with customers.”

Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has resisted putting the state into lockdown as Bondi outbreak has ballooned to 37 cases — more than Victoria had when plunged into its latest lockdown.

Instead, she introduced localised restrictions, saying Sydneysiders would not be “burdened” with a lockdown unless absolutely necessary.

“I am confident that if we adhere to the health orders, we will have a good chance of getting on top of this outbreak.”

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