Victoria has recorded 28 new cases of coronavirus – the lowest daily tally in almost three months – as country residents enjoy their first taste of freedom and police beef-up checkpoints around Melbourne.
The last time Victoria recorded a daily case figure below 30 was on June 24 when 29 new cases were reported.
Another eight Victorians have died from the virus, taking the state's death toll to 745.
Melbourne's crucial 14-day case average has fallen to 44.4, its lowest level since the height of the second coronavirus wave.
It fell below 50 for the first time since the peak of the second surge in cases on Wednesday to 49.6. In its road map to recovery, the state government said restrictions would only start to ease from the end of September in Melbourne if the 14-day average remained between 30 and 50 cases.
The state recorded 42 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, but the overall tally of cases only increased by 32 after 10 cases were reclassified due to duplication. Of the new cases reported on Wednesday, 29 were linked to known outbreaks but 13 remain under investigation.
Health officials have added three new locations to the list of high-risk COVID-19 exposure sites in Melbourne.
Anyone who visited Clifton Hill Mitre 10 last Thursday (September 10), Craigieburn Shopping Centre last Friday (September 11) and KFC at Westgate Port Melbourne last Thursday and Friday (September 10 and September 11) is being urged to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they feel unwell.
In regional Victoria, residents can now have visitors to their homes, restaurants and cafes can have seated indoor and outdoor dining, beauty services can reopen and people can gather in groups of 10 outside.
Geelong residents were enjoying brunch at cafes for the first time in weeks on Thursday morning.
Of his area's new-found freedom, Wharf Shed cafe owner Andrew Clark said: "It tastes fantastic ...
"It's a great day for regional Victoria and for the hospitality industry – we're open at long last with restrictions," he told the Today show.
"We have a limit of 20 per venue and an outside limit of 50, but we're working [with] that.
"We really feel for Melbourne people - we just hope they abide by the rules."
In an effort to stop Melburnians travelling to regional Victoria, police checkpoints have been beefed-up.
Police and Australian Defence Force personnel were stopping every single car and truck at the Nar Nar Goon checkpoint near Pakenham on Melbourne's eastern outskirts on Thursday morning.
Melburnians face an almost $5000 fine for trying to travel to the country without a valid reason.
Deputy Commissioner of regional operations Rick Nugent announced the new $4957 fine on Tuesday for "failure to comply with a requirement to remain in a restricted area".
Mr Nugent added police would check every car towing caravans or boats during the upcoming September school holidays.
The fine will apply to every person found in a group travelling. For example, a couple travelling would each receive a $4957 fine and be sent home.
Council lifeline for Melbourne's Myer Christmas windows
Melbourne's iconic Myer Christmas windows may be saved this year after the Melbourne City Council passed a motion to negotiate a lifeline with the retailer.
Last week Myer said it would cancel the much-loved window displays this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"Many Melburnians will recall with fond nostalgia gazing through the glass windows of the magic and movement and the anticipation of what new wonders the Christmas windows would bring," said Councillor Susan Riley, who put forward the motion at Wednesday night's council meeting.
"Premier [Daniel] Andrews has stated that Christmas will not be normal for Melburnians this year. However, I'm keen for some aspects to be as normal as possible and these windows could go a long way to achieving that."
The motion passed on Wednesday night authorised the council's chief executive Justin Hanney to negotiate a joint funding package for the windows.
"Melbourne needs mistletoe magic this year," Cr Riley said.