‘Nobody wants to see the gyms shut down’: Fitness centers cope with new COVID masking rules

RedZone Fitness in Weston has never known life without restrictions.

The gym opened in July, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the facility’s members and staff have had to grapple with sanitizing, masking and socially distancing requirements ever since. That said, given the smallness of classes, patrons were able to stay far enough apart that they didn’t have to wear masks while working out, said Elana Goldblatt, part owner, studio manager and lead coach at RedZone Fitness

“People had to wear a mask while walking to their spot (and elsewhere in the gym),” Goldblatt said — just not while working out.

That has changed.

On Nov. 20, Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order that, among things, required patrons of all gyms and fitness centers in the state to wear masks at all times, “with no exceptions.”

Previously, establishments didn’t have to require that patrons wear a mask during workouts as long as they maintained at least 12 feet of social distance while exercising. The capacity limit at gyms was also reduced, from 50 percent to 25 percent.

The new regulations are an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Connecticut, which has spiked over the past several weeks. Requiring face coverings at all times can be potentially helpful in the gym environment, said Keith Grant, senior system director of infection prevention for Hartford HealthCare.

“One of the primary (COVID-19) symptoms that we’re most concerned with is coughing,” Grant said during a Tuesday press conference. “The mechanics of coughing is moving the actual particles forward. That is also seen with an increase in the rate of breathing, such as that which happen with exercising.”

Wearing a mask can help prevent those particles from being pushed out, and can keep spread down, Grant said.

Goldblatt said the new restrictions pose some challenges for clients. The gym offers different classes every day and, on Monday, the first day of classes at the gym following the mask requirement, RedZone had a cardio workout class.

“It was hard on Monday because it was a very intense day and the very first day (people were) wearing a mask to work out,” Goldblatt said. “But I think the longer you wear mask while working out, the easier it is. It’s like working out — the first day you do it is going be harder than the fifth day.”

It is another hurdle at a time that’s been full of them, but Goldblatt said if the new guidelines allow gyms like RedZone to remain operational, she and her clients will try to take them in stride.

“We are open,” Goldblatt said. “We still have clients. I will take this as a win.”

Greta Wagner, executive director of Chelsea Piers in Stamford, had a similar attitude. Before the new regulations, she said, “We had a few mask-free zones where people could work out because we had 12-foot distancing. It was very appreciated by clients. It made it much more enjoyable, when people could work out

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Top fitness executives are fighting to keep gyms open amid coronavirus

  • As of Thursday, four states — including Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington — re-issued state-mandated shutdowns requiring gyms to temporarily close to halt the spread of the virus.
  • In conversations with Business Insider, the chief executives of Life Time Fitness, Self Esteem Brands, and Retro Fitness make their case for leaving fitness centers open and explain why they believe closing them is a threat to public health. 
  • “If you look at a macro level, what’s frustrating to us is this country has a health problem and it’s not just COVID,” said Self Esteem Brands Chuck Runyon. “There is no better time for health officials around the country to remind people to take control of our health.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While the pandemic has put a damper on Thanksgiving plans for many Americans, rising coronavirus cases are also hindering traditional pre-feast fitness routines like annual turkey trot races and family gym outings. 

As of Thursday, four states — including Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington — re-issued state-mandated shutdowns requiring gyms to temporarily shutter to halt the spread of the virus. And while gyms in most states remain open for now, officials in regions like New York are enforcing earlier closing times and stricter capacity limits for fitness centers. 

The closures are sparking outcry and exacerbating existing feuds between gym owners and state officials regarding what types of businesses are permitted to remain open and determined essential. 

In conversations with Business Insider, the chief executives of Life Time Fitness, Self Esteem Brands, and Retro Fitness made their case for leaving fitness centers open and explain why they feel closing is a threat to public health. Here’s what they had to say. 

Gym owners push lawmakers for essential status 

Compounding the struggle for gym owners and consumers alike is a lack of conclusive data regarding exposure and infection rates at gyms, leaving many experts and policymakers at odds over the best course of action.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that “indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces” and several reports found fitness centers — including a spin studio in Ontario, Canada and an indoor ice rink in Massachusetts — tied to several coronavirus outbreaks. Further, a recent analysis by Northwestern University found that gyms were among superspreader venues early in the virus, based on cellphone mobility data. 

Still, other studies — including a September report from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association — are reporting contrary findings that show low risk of infection at gyms. While IHRSA reported infection rates as low as .0023% across 2,873 fitness centers, The Washington Post reported that concerns have arisen over the methodology of the survey and conflicts of interest in its development. 

Regardless, gym owners are fighting tooth and nail to keep their facilities open, using any helpful data point to their advantage. 

Among the most vocal opponents of gym closures is Bahram Akradi, the founder and CEO of Life Time Fitness, a Minnesota-based company

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Which Gyms Are Open on Thanksgiving 2020? Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, Equinox Opening Hours

Some gyms are open on Thanksgiving, which this year falls on November 26. Here we look at the hours of operation at some major gyms across the country, including Crunch Fitness, Gold’s Gym and more.

Planet Fitness

Most Planet Fitness gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact your local venue to confirm before visiting.

The fitness chain has implemented several safety measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, including “requiring all members to wear masks while in-club so you can gym safely and confidently.

“Keep a safe distance by putting an imaginary treadmill, or two, between you and others,” the company noted.

Guests can also see how many people are at their local branch before visiting through the Planet Fitness mobile app. “Just open up the app and tap Crowd Meter to view how many members are there,” the company advises.

LA Fitness

Some LA Fitness locations have yet to resume operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, while several have reopened. Some LA Fitness gyms have been on a reduced schedule on Thanksgiving in previous years, while some facilities have been closed. Contact your nearest venue to confirm Thanksgiving opening hours before visiting.

Equinox

The hours of operation at Equinox over holidays, such as Thanksgiving, vary by location. Check your local branch to confirm opening and closing times before visiting.

Equinox gyms have also issued new safety guidelines amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Physical distancing of at least 6-to-10 feet, depending on local guidelines, between members and employees is required at all times. Please respect floor markings and any other visual cues that facilitate distancing at the front desk, in our locker rooms, studios, and other club areas.

“Mask requirements vary by local government mandates,” and guests are advised to check their local branch for details before visiting.

Guests are required to make a booking for their gym session before their visit using the Equinox mobile app, while some branches may require a temperature check.

See the Equinox website for more information.

Crunch Fitness

Some branches of Crunch Fitness are operating on reduced hours on Thanksgiving.

Crunch Fitness gyms have introduced several safety measures, including mask requirements for staff “alongside other PPE [personal protective equipment] if required by public health officials.

“We recommend members wear masks within the gym (unless mask wearing is required at all times by public health officials),” the company said.

Social distancing guidelines and enhanced disinfecting equipment have also been implemented, including the “airPHX clean air systems” which “uses atmospheric cold plasma to change a small percentage of the oxygen molecules in the air into a unique spectrum of oxidizing molecules that kill bacteria, viruses, and mold,” the company noted.

See the Crunch Fitness website to see the hours of operation and the specific safety guidelines issued at your nearest branch.

Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness gyms are usually open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including on holidays such as Thanksgiving. Contact your local branch to confirm before visiting.

The fitness

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Philadelphia Fitness Coalition protesting restrictions on city gyms amid coronavirus pandemic

More than two dozen gyms in Philadelphia are joining forces, demanding that the city allows them to reopen.

Philly Fitness Coalition is fighing the restrictions for gyms in the city

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They have created the Philadelphia Fitness Coalition and have gathered more than 1,500 signatures in opposition to the new restrictions.

As the number of covid-19 cases rises, the city required gyms to shut down indoor activities at the end of last week.

But gym owners say it is unfair because of the safety precautions they have put in place.

They plan to protest outside of City Hall on Tuesday.

Last week, the city’s top health official, Dr. Thomas Farley, defended the city’s decision to tighten restrictions, saying now is the riskiest time for the transmission of the virus.

“What was now safe is now dangerous with the change in the weather. Many businesses feel they put safety measures in place, sure they have, and I’m sure there’s no spread there and that’s true in many places. Remember, there are more people than ever with the virus,” said Farley.

City officials said dramatic action is needed to respond to an exponential growth in cases and hospitalizations.

On Thursday, health officials announced 765 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 57,237.

The number of residents who have died from the virus in Philadelphia is 1,945.

How is 2nd wave of COVID-19 impacting local hospitals?

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits the Philadelphia region, doctors and medical professionals discuss how the virus is impacting hospitals.

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The new round of COVID-19 regulations was the final straw for one Philadelphia restaurant. The Grey Lodge Pub in Mayfair is closing its doors for good after 70 years in business. The Lucky Cat Brewing Company, which is a standalone business inside the pub, will remain open.

Philadelphia museums knocked back down by new COVID-19 restrictions

The new restrictions put in place to tackle the surge of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia are hitting museums in the area hard. After going through a five-month shutdown during the first wave, they are being shut down again, which in some cases, will cause hard economic pain and uncertainty for employees.

National Constitution Center temporarily closes to the public through January 1, 2021

In accordance with health guidelines from the City of Philadelphia in response to COVID-19, the National Constitution Center is temporarily closed to the public through January 1, 2021. The Center offers a range of free online programs and resources for learners of all ages. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Houses of worship in Philly vow to persevere amid new COVID restrictions

The new COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia will have a major impact on houses of worship, which for the time being can operate at only 5% capacity. While the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revises its guidance, some churches and synagogues in the city have a variety of innovative plans

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Unite Fitness, these other gyms offer COVID-safe workouts as the weather turns colder

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — If you’ve been playing it safe during the pandemic, avoiding the gym and taking your workout outdoors, you might be worrying about what to do as the weather turns colder.

So we rounded up some workouts to take you through the winter; some indoors, some outside and some a hybrid — but all with a strong focus on keeping you safe.

Unite Fitness
Unite at the Armory
23rd and Ranstead Streets, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103

Unite One-on-One Personal Training
26 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103
267-534-3230

Unite Live & On-Demand Virtual Classes
Commit to a year and it’s $300 for unlimited live and on-demand virtual classes.

SPECIAL DEAL FOR FYI PHILLY VIEWERS
*Select Streaming Intro Trial and enter the code FYIPHILLY at checkout to receive complimentary 14 days full access to Unite Live and On-Demand, plus two Guest Live Class Reservations.

Amrita Yoga & Wellness
Offering Sculpture Courtyard & Barn Classes that are also live-streamed and available on-demand
1717 N. Hancock Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19122

JP Sneed Personal Fitness Studio
One-on-one & small group training in Sculpture Courtyard & Barn
1714 N. Mascher Street (entrance also on 1717 N. Hancock Street ), Philadelphia, Pa. 19122

The Training Station | 5 Part Pandemic Plan | Workout Reservations
533 Spring Garden Street, #D1, Philadelphia, Pa. 19123
215-964-9558

Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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Are gyms closing in lockdown? What Covid restrictions mean for fitness centres, and when they could open again

A second national lockdown will come into force as of Thursday 5 November to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest measures alongside chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty during a press conference at Downing Street on Saturday.

As with the first lockdown, everyone in England will be banned from leaving their home except for a list of specific circumstances including going to school, commuting to work if you cannot work at home, seeking medical care or buying essential supplies.

But will gyms close again? Here’s what the second lockdown means for fitness centres.

Are gyms closing again?

Gyms and fitness centres were one of the last businesses to reopen at the end of July, following the first lockdown in spring.

Sadly, under the latest lockdown rules, they are set to close again.

Gyms were among the last businesses to reopen following the first lockdown in spring (Photo: David Davies/PA)

Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, including bowling alleys, swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, as well as dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks will also have to shut their doors.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail will close and people will be told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave.

How long are they going to stay closed for?

Ms Johnson said will last from Thursday 5 November until 2 December.

This means that gyms and all other sports facilities will remain closed for at least four weeks.

Although Cabinet minister Michael Gove on Sunday added that England’s national lockdown could last longer than four weeks, if the R rate is not successfully brought below 1.0 by the end of the proposed lockdown period.

Why are gyms closing?

The closures of gyms are part of the second lockdown measures to halt the spread of Covid-19 cases as fresh data showed the second wave could be deadlier than the first.

Mr Johnson performed the U-turn after Government scientists presented data which showed that without drastic action, the NHS was on track to run out of capacity by the first week of December – even if all elective procedures are cancelled and Nightingale hospitals are reactivated.

Individuals will still be allowed to exercise outdoors, either on their own, with one person from another household or with their support bubble (Photo: Coralie Datta/Historic England/PA)

It is understood the Prime Minister changed his mind on the merits of going back into lockdown when modellers from the Spi-M subcommittee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies presented him with figures showing that NHS capacity will be exhausted on 4 December if hospitalisations continue on their current trajectory.

A further 162 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, while there were 23,254 new lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing

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Ontario fitness industry urges members to pressure Ford government to allow gyms to reopen

Goodlife Fitness is urging its members to pressure the Ontario government to allow gyms to reopen in parts of the province where they’ve been forced to close because of rising COVID-19 cases.

In an email sent to members across the province Tuesday, the fitness giant is encouraging its members to write a letter to their local MPP, Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott among others.

“Between mandated shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and ongoing questions about the safety of fitness facilities, our industry is facing the most difficult time in its history,” the email reads.

Jason Sheridan, senior vice-president of operations at Goodlife, said the email was sent to more than 175,000 members.

The campaign is led by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada. Other businesses who are part of the industry council will also take part.

“Through this campaign . . . we are keen to advance the discussions with the Ontario government and public health and to help co-create any enhanced guidelines for gyms across Ontario,” Sheridan told the Star.

“We are open to navigating this situation together and working to develop solutions that would allow us to continue to invest in the health and wellness of Ontarians.”

The letter, sent with the subject line Stand Up for Fitness, discusses the impact the shutdown has had on the province’s fitness industry, citing the benefits of physical benefits on mental health during the pandemic and reducing the strain on local health-care systems as a result.

As cases spiked in the province, and concerns that group activity in indoor spaces may be adding to the transmission of the virus, Ford ordered the closure of all gyms in Ottawa and parts of the GTA on Oct. 10.

In Quebec, a group of fitness centre owners says its members are no longer planning to open Thursday in defiance of that government’s lockdown orders.

On Monday, a coalition of more than 250 gym owners threatened to open their doors this week, prompting a warning from Premier Francois Legault that they and their clients would be fined.

Gym owners in Ontario have not gone that far, but are still heated over the impact from the temporary closure.

The office of Lisa MacLeod, Ontario minister of heritage, sport and tourism, acknowledges the struggles the fitness industry is going through but says the government will continue to follow public health advice.

“This is a difficult time for so many businesses that are already struggling, which is why we are working hard to make $300 million available as soon as possible to cover fixed costs,” minister spokesperson Dakota Brasier said.

“We will continue to take prudent and progressive action to reopen based on expert public health advice as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Sweat and Tonic, a Toronto boutique fitness studio is part of an online petition in collaboration with the Ontario Independent Fitness Studios Association and 300 other businesses to advocate for the re-opening of fitness studios.

Morgan Thomas, general manager at Sweat and

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While all gyms are included in COVID-19 shutdowns, not all fitness facilities are the same

Karume Mrusha works out at Hone Fitness in Toronto on July 31, 2020.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

It’s a problem I’m glad someone else is responsible for solving – how exactly do you protect people from a mysterious and deadly airborne virus without ruining the economy and stomping all over civil liberties? This is the COVID-19 conundrum in a nutshell.

When the Ontario government announced renewed lockdown restrictions for Toronto, Ottawa and Peel regions at the beginning of October, gyms were placed front and centre in the firing line. All indoor fitness facilities – along with casinos, cinemas, performing-arts venues and indoor dining establishments – were ordered closed by the Premier’s office until at least early November, a desperate attempt by officials to quell the rising case numbers in the province after a quiet and hopeful summer.

Not five minutes after this announcement was made, my Instagram feed began to look like something like a libertarian activist forum. Most of the grumbling came from gym owners who were upset about the prospect of losing another month’s business. Then came the armchair virologists whose amateur opinions amount to a “survival of the fittest” argument.

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My scope of practice as a personal trainer excludes me from making any statements on COVID-19 outside of what medical experts are already saying, but I do want to address, from an insider’s perspective, the issue of gyms being shuttered.

Why gyms should be included in the lockdown

By now you’ve likely heard about the Hamilton-based spin studio that’s at the centre of a massive COVID-19 outbreak. Eighty cases have so far been linked to SpinCo, though it’s feared this number could easily reach 100. It’s believed that “patient zero” was asymptomatic, a common and insidious feature of COVID-19 infections.

This case presents an obvious and important question: How can businesses in which groups of people gather together under one roof operate safely when basic screening measures are essentially useless?

The answer is just as obvious. They can’t. According to SpinCo staff, class capacity was cut by 50 per cent, from 43 riders to 21, and each bike was buffered by a six-foot radius. The problem is the very nature of the activity members are paying to participate in. Picture a spin class in action (this thought experiment works just as well if you substitute a kettlebell class, kickboxing or any HIIT-style class). The exertion level is high. Lots of heavy breathing. Lots of spit and sweat, lots of speaking moistly. Distancing protocols mean nothing in these environments.

It’s a tough spot for fitness businesses to be in, and my heart goes out to all gym owners struggling to stay afloat. Take your classes outside while you still can, apply for federal relief if you qualify, and ride out the storm with the rest of the world.

#notallgyms

There’s a common misconception among people who don’t exercise that all exercise is the same, that a gym is a gym is a gym. This is like

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Technogym bets on home fitness boom as virus empties gyms

* H1 revenues suffered as empty gyms postpone orders

* Home fitness equipment sales jumped 50% in H1

* Home & Consumer sales could rise to 50% of total

* Sees pandemic opening up new business opportunities

MILAN, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Italian fitness-equipment maker Technogym is working to supply more of its exercise machines and virtual trainers to peoples’ homes to offset a drop in sales to gyms and studios due to the pandemic.

Restrictions to contain the new coronavirus, or even just fears of contagion, have prompted many people to give up training at their local gym. Italy has not ruled out closing gyms and swimming pools again to fight a COVID-19 resurgence.

“We are seeing a strong acceleration in the home fitness segment,” Technogym founder and Chief Executive Nerio Alessandri told Reuters in an interview.

Technogym has been the official supplier of the last seven Olympic games and its client book includes several top soccer clubs. Alessandri said the company had been selling equipment to professional athletes stuck at home.

It also received an order from a big company that bought a “Technogym package” for its staff, offering employees working from home training programmes and equipment.

“We think that the Home & Consumer segment could come to represent around 50% of our total revenues in four years from now. And profit margins match those of the professional segment,” added Alessandri, 59.

Companies such as exercise bike business Peloton have successfully tapped into the home workout market as people try to stay fit during lockdowns.

Technogym, which supplies equipment to gyms, hotels and spas in around 100 countries, can offer home-friendly products. An “entry level” treadmill costs 3,250 euros ($3,850) and an exercise bike 2,950 euros.

In September, Technogym reported that first-half revenue fell to 222 million euros from 295 million a year earlier. By contrast, the group recorded a jump in sales of its home fitness equipment.

Sales of exercise machines and online training programmes directly to customers soared by 50% in the first half. They now account for 30% of group revenues, twice the level of 2019.

Alessandri said Technogym would invest to support growth at its home fitness division, using budget savings linked to the cancellations of trade fairs and business trips due to COVID-19.

He said the pandemic had impressed upon people the importance of keeping fit, and he pointed to a boom in medical fitness centres, which combine healthcare and gym facilities.

“We see new markets opening up,” he said. “People are increasingly aware that good health is the true luxury.” ($1 = 0.8442 euros) (Reporting by Elisa Anzolin; editing by Valentina Za and Jane Merriman)

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Fitness Australia calls on Daniel Andrews to reopen Victorian gyms

A top chief executive in Victoria’s fitness industry is demanding the government reopen the struggling sector, claiming current restrictions preventing gyms opening their doors are “based on ignorance”.

In an open letter to the state Premier Daniel Andrews, Fitness Australia chief executive Barrie Elvish called for an end to “archaic” restrictions and implored that gyms were able to enforce COVID-safe strategies.

“This consistent ‘anti-gym’ messaging leads me to conclude it can only be based on ignorance or a deliberate strategy to use the sector as some form of litmus test for ‘proving’ an ongoing extension of draconian lockdown restrictions are justified,” Mr Elvish wrote.

“You have once again persisted in maintaining gyms are unsafe and cannot be made safe. This is despite evidence to the contrary in every other Australian state where the sector is safely operating with a range of COVID-safe protocols.

“But Premier, how would you, or your department, know? To date the Victorian government’s engagement with the fitness sector has been the worst in Australia.

“Your recent comments also ignore the most recent data that indicates the hospitality sector has more than five times the number of transmissions as the fitness sector.”

Gyms were not among the list of industries, announced on Sunday, where restrictions would be eased.

When questioned about when they could reopen, Mr Andrews maintained they were “high-risk environments”.

“That’s not my opinion, that’s not a matter that I’ve come up with, that’s the international evidence,” he said.

“We’ve gone further in relation to outdoor (exercise), but it is a very challenging environment, and it’s one of those things where no one’s taking any joy out of that.”

He said gyms were “unsafe” by nature and work was under way to determine when they could reopen.

“There’ll be a time when they can, and we’re looking at that closely, but I can’t just give them the news they want now because it wouldn’t be safe to do that,” he said.

But Mr Elvish contended all gyms interstate were operating safely and effectively with COVID-safe protocols in place.

“With 1500 facilities employing 40,000 Victorians and supporting 900,000 members, it is safe to say gyms are commercial enterprises,” he wrote.

“Unlike the hospitality sector, gyms have had hygiene protocols in place for 10 years; not months

“In some states COVID-safe protocols include a dedicated staff member not just ensuring social distancing but also cleaning.

“Our specific proposals for Victoria made allowance for the provision of temperature checks on entry, masks and gloves for members.”

Mr Elvish then pleaded with the Premier to review a specific COVID-safe plan fitness sector executives submitted to the deputy chief health officer on September 25.

As of Tuesday, Melbourne’s 14-day rolling virus average had fallen to 6.4.

Regional Victoria has a daily case average of just 0.4.

The Premier has this week hinted at more significant announcements to easing of restrictions this weekend if infections remain low.

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