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Melbourne will stay in lockdown for up to SIX weeks until COVID-19 cases reach single figures daily

Melbourne could remain in lockdown for up to six weeks until COVID-19 cases reach single figures daily.

Victoria recorded 63 new cases and five deaths on Sunday, as Premier Daniel Andrews prepares to unveil his ‘roadmap’ out of restrictions across Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

Senior government officials said Mr Andrews is waiting for case numbers to get below 10 per day before reopening the economy.

But University of Melbourne modelling shows this could be at least six weeks away, despite stage four restrictions set to expire on September 14.   

Daily case numbers in the southern state have been tracking steadily down in recent weeks and are now usually below 100.

But there are still 1956 active cases in the state and residents are being urged to ‘work harder’ than ever before.

The effects of the Victorian situation are felt across the country as state and territory leaders try to keep the virus out of their communities while protecting agriculture and other necessities.

Friction between federal and state governments over border closures remains, with Liberal MP Andrew Laming the latest to criticise premiers for their caution.

The federal MP attacked West Australian premier Mark McGowan over his decision, contrary to other premiers, not to reopen borders before Christmas, saying it was ‘bizarre’ and ‘poll-driven’.

Federal opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen criticised the federal government for ‘bullying’ premiers into opening their border before they’re ready.

‘Labor backs all our premiers … regardless of political parties when they’re following the health advice,’ Mr Bowen said.

Queensland’s extended ‘border bubble’ to the NSW town of Moree has drawn criticism from federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who said the rule would distress high school boarding students, some as young as 12, who would have to isolate alone in a hotel before coming home.

Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia have refused to endorse a national agriculture code that would deem agricultural work an essential service.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the code is crucial for Australia’s agricultural sector, after years of drought were this year succeeded by a bumper harvest.

She has implored Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to revise her hardline position on borders, saying Australia’s eastern states are ‘inextricably linked’.

All states except WA have given in-principle endorsement to the idea of defining a coronavirus hotspot but the complex definition of the nation’s acting chief medical officer has been rejected.

After failing to secure consensus on easing restrictions, the prime minister said on Friday he had changed the rules for national cabinet so consensus wasn’t needed.

Victoria recorded 76 new diagnoses on Saturday while NSW recorded five, Queensland one and SA also one.

The Victorian death toll is 661 and nationwide tally is 748. 

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