Victorian COVID case is being treated as a rare reinfection

Victoria may have recorded Australia's first case of COVID-19 reinfection, after Premier Daniel Andrews revealed the single case reported on Tuesday is believed to be a person who has contracted the virus a second time.

The state recorded three new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as the state government outlined its plan for hospitality businesses to expand their outdoor dining capability.

Melbourne's cafes, restaurants and pubs will not need new planning permits to use outdoor spaces when they are given the green light reopen and will be allowed to construct temporary buildings without planning permits.



Businesses covered by the exemptions include restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, function and reception centres, and wineries.

Mr Andrews has flagged that the reopening date for hospitality could be brought forward from November 2, based on the low numbers of new coronavirus cases the state has recorded this week.

First possible case of COVID-19 reinfection

On Wednesday, he said the single case reported on Tuesday is a person who may have been reinfected with the virus.

"The person from yesterday who tested positive twice – the first time back in July – he is currently regarded as a reinfection of coronavirus, so he will be recorded as a positive case," he said.

An expert panel has reviewed the case and "concluded there wasn't enough evidence to say that the positive test presented viral shedding, so the case is being monitored closely".

"It is through an abundance of caution that we are assuming that it is a positive case, rather than the person shedding after the original infection," he said. "There have been very few reported cases of reinfection around the world."

Two of Wednesday's cases are linked to the northern metro community outbreak and the third is under investigation but is believed to be a close contact of a known case.

There were no further deaths recorded in the past day.

The 14-day rolling average dropped to 6.6, down from 6.8 on Tuesday. The number of mystery cases has dropped to 10. There are 109 active cases in the state, including 106 in metro Melbourne and three in Shepparton.

Ten people are in hospital battling the virus and no COVID-19 patients are in intensive care.

No permits needed to expand outdoor dining

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said as the numbers drop and hospitality reopens, they are encouraging venues to come up with "innovative" ways to operate outdoors.

This could include using car parks in the evening for pop-ups, he said.

"We are looking, of course, at open space more generally, parks, and the innovation that local government and indeed the hospitality industry has shown really, I think, is going to be an exemplar not only for the state, but also for the nation, in terms of how we seek to move out of these restrictions to a more COVID-normal environment for the hospitality industry going forward," he said.

He said the government was removing "all hurdles" to support their efforts.

"This planning scheme amendment is for the whole of Victoria. The opportunity is there for any hospitality venue that wishes to expand its existing legal operation to do so without having any hurdle in its way."

He said that businesses with an existing permit for outdoor dining would need to consult with local councils about their plans, but they would not need a planning permit to make changes.

"No need for an administrator to say yes or no to the application because you will not need to make an application," he said.

"You need to consult the council about the scope of what you want to do and that will have to comply with the building act."

Mr Andrews said this could mean significant changes for outdoor dining, particularly in the CBD.

"If you look at Bourke Street for example, the restaurants there … tables and chairs could move where the cars normally park," he said.

"You can even see a situation where the trams keep running but in certain hours of the day they get closed off and you don't have cars going down there, as an example."

The announcement came a day after seven of Australia's top chief executives urged Mr Andrews to move more quickly to open the state economy in a warning about the damage to jobs and the community from prolonged restrictions.

In a joint letter from big employers such as BHP, the Commonwealth Bank and Wesfarmers, the chief executives warn the current restrictions are unsustainable and must be scaled back so workers can return to their jobs.

Mr Andrews said the executives should wait for the announcements he is going to make on Sunday, and measures contained in the budget.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we have to deal with the health problem first," he said.

"We have to look at the damage that this pandemic has done to us in lots of different ways, personal, family, economy, different sectors, different businesses, different workers have been impacted. That is why the budget, forthcoming budget, is about security.

"It is about of sense of confidence, for the people you love the most. What next year looks like, what next month looks like, that is what the budget will look like, projects large and small.

"People are frustrated, we all are, but to those CEOs and others, I very much hope that we will have more to say on the weekend."

On Wednesday morning, trucking magnate Lindsay Fox called for greater bipartisanship as the country navigated its way through the recovery process.

Mr Fox, founder of logistics giant Linfox, told ABC Radio National on Wednesday that politicians should be focusing on the "common enemy" of COVID-19 rather than attacking each other.

"To the Premier's credit, he has had the balls to stay through the problem that started and he has carried through where other people all around the world … have now got a second bite back three times worse than the first round," he said.

"Some tough decisions have got to be made and he has been tough enough to make them. I haven't agreed with them, but they have had to be made because we are coming out of it now."

With David Crowe

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