National News

Andrews defends Casey cluster fines call

Fining people in the Casey cluster ultimately could have cost Victoria billions of dollars, according to Premier Daniel Andrews.

Mr Andrews continues to defend the decision not to issue any fines over the coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne's outer south-east.

It emerged last week that some people involved in the cluster had breached lockdown rules by travelling more than 5km from home and visiting other households.

That should have meant a $1652 fine, but the premier said crucial contact tracing relies on people being unafraid to give honest information about their movements and those they have visited.

"If people want to try and do contact tracing, we need the truth from people," he said.

"What is more valuable, a $1652 fine for someone who went to visit someone or the true fortune that comes from them telling us when they went there, who they spent time with, who we should be going and tracing, testing and locking down?

"This is not thousands of dollars. That is billions of dollars. Because that is the key to getting us opened up."

The cluster stands at 43 cases and Mr Andrews has come under strong criticism for no-one being fined over the cluster.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said on Monday it was the decision of health department officials not to issue fines.

"I could mount an argument either way, really, but the reality is they've made an assessment," he said.

Victoria announced two coronavirus deaths on Monday, taking the state toll to 763 and the national figure to 851.

There were only 11 new cases as Melbourne's 14-day case average dropped to 34.4, while the regional figure came in at 1.6.

This is the lowest daily COVID-19 case number since June 16, when it was nine - before the start of the state's second wave.

"This is not just a good day, this is a great day," the premier said of the case numbers.

Melbourne's daily average is well below the target of 50 to lift some virus restrictions later this month.

But Mr Andrews is adamant it is not yet time to ease Melbourne's stage four restrictions.

"If we were to open up right now, these numbers are still too high and, as has been noted many, many times ... you won't see the impacts of that for two to three weeks' time," he said.

It remains unclear when five suburban contact tracing units, announced by the premier on September 8, will be in operation.

"It's happening as quickly as it can be done," he said.

Mr Andrews said Monday's low testing number of 7164 is "acceptable", but it must remain "robust" so authorities can be confident about what is happening with the virus.

The 14-day average for cases with an unknown source is down to 47 for Melbourne, and there have been none in regional Victoria.

Education Minister James Merlino announced school camps will resume in term four for regional Victoria.

But they will be limited to single schools, and camps can only happen outside Melbourne.

Prep to grade 6 students in standalone regional primary schools will return to on-site learning from October 5.

© AAP 2020