The precautions that rural communities have taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus has given the state government confidence to consider a different set of restrictions for regional Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced this morning.
Mr Andrews told media that two different 'roadmaps' would be released this Sunday - one for metropolitan Melbourne and a second "that may have different components" for regional Victoria.
It comes as 70 new COVID-19 cases and five further deaths were confirmed today.
There are now 2519 active cases statewide, of which 159 cases are in regional local government areas.
Mr Andrews said the roadmap would contain "a series of stages" and not include definitive dates or commitments.
"Given the low case numbers it will be possible for us to have different settings in regional Victoria, compared to what will be essential in metropolitan Melbourne," he said.
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"Thank you so much to everyone across regional Victoria, many of whom live in communities where there have been very few, and some to the best of our knowledge, where there have been no cases.
"That's how we want to keep it. These rules, I know, are frustrating and challenging, but they're very important to driving down those numbers further and keeping them down.
"All the pain, all the hard work, all the sacrifices, all the hard work that Victorians have done has to count for something.
"That's why getting this right: not opening up too much too fast, but instead doing in a gradual, slow, steady and cautious way."
Mr Andrews said that in areas where case numbers are low, and there was the ability to be "more open", it was only "fair and proper" to allow that to occur.
"You've got to try and make sure that the rules are relatively simple. Though, we can't have 15 different zones across regional Victoria - that wouldn't really mean much," he said.
"But, if we have the right settings and we do this properly, having properly defeated the second wave, then people will - as part of that long-term safe and stable COVID normal - be able to travel to regional Victoria.
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"People will be able to go and spend in regional Victoria, and have a freedom of movement that we've not really had at any point this year."
Mr Andrews said more than 100,000 tests had been conducted across regional Victoria since stage three restrictions were re-introduced.
"That's a mighty effort when you can see the distance that has covered and the spread between those communities, where the tests have been conducted," he said.
"We're very grateful to each and every one of those regional Victorians who have come forward and got tested.
"That's a powerful contribution you can make to our fight against this enemy."
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