Victoria has recorded 35 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths, as Melbourne takes its first tentative steps out of lockdown.
The figures, confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services, bring the state’s death toll from the virus to 730 and the national figure to 817.
From Monday, people living alone or single parents will be allowed to have one other visitor as part of a “social bubble”.
Outdoor exercise is extended to two hours split over a maximum of two sessions, allowing social interaction with one other person or household members.
Playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment will reopen and the nightly curfew will start an hour later at 9pm before finishing at 5am.
The 14-day case average for Melbourne sits at 56.9, inching closer to the sub-50 target.
Melbourne will move to the “second step”, including increased limits for public gatherings and a staged return to school for some students, from September 28 if the average falls to 30-50.
“If you project forward 14 days, you would expect the 14-day rolling average to the end of September would be absolutely no more than 48,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
“It is more likely to be between 20 and 30, I would hope.”
People in regional Victoria will also enjoy greater freedom from Monday with up to five people able to gather in outdoor places from a maximum of two households.
The five-person limit will also apply for religious services that can resume in regional Victoria if they’re held outdoors with a faith leader.
Authorities are hopeful regional areas could jump two steps out of lockdown by mid-next week, allowing residents to go out for a coffee or meal.
The Labor government on Sunday announced a $3 billion suite of cash grants, payroll tax deferrals and fee waivers, described by Premier Daniel Andrews as “the biggest package of business support in the history of this state”.
There will be payroll tax deferrals for up to 12 months for businesses with payroll of up to $10 million a year, coming at a cost of some $1.7 billion to the state.
Business groups welcomed the support but renewed calls for the government to reopen the state as soon as possible.
Tensions remained high in parts of Melbourne.
More than 70 people were arrested as anti-lockdown protesters gathered at the Queen Victoria Market, with some throwing fruit at police after raiding market stalls.