Victoria records 43 new COVID-19 cases, nine deaths

Victoria has recorded 43 new coronavirus cases, keeping the closely watched figure in the double digits for the eighth consecutive day as debate continues over Melbourne's curfew.

Another nine Victorians have died from the virus, taking the state's death toll to 710 and the national death toll to 797.

Friday's case tally comes after 51 new infections were reported on Thursday, 76 on Wednesday, 55 on Tuesday and 41 on Monday.

But it's Victoria's 14-day average of coronavirus cases which is the key metric for locked-down residents.

Restrictions will only start to ease significantly in Melbourne from September 28, if that crucial figure falls below 50. The 14-day average fell to 73 cases on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the key crossbench MP who guaranteed the Andrews government’s state of emergency powers wants Melbourne’s curfew lifted, as retail groups lobby for night-time restrictions to be scrapped.

Reason Party upper house MP Fiona Patten believes the curfew should go.

Bourke Street, typically one of Melbourne’s busiest streets, has been deserted during the extended lockdown. Credit:Daniel Pockett

"People need to feel we are moving from stage four to like a stage 3.7 and so on as we go through this process. If we can’t travel more than five kilometres and all businesses are shut, what is the problem with someone walking the dog or having a jog in the evening?" she said.

Premier Daniel Andrews defended the restrictions on Thursday following revelations that neither Victoria Police nor Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton asked for Melburnians to be confined to their homes between 8pm and 5am.

As the controversy raged, lawyers and industry groups representing the night-time economy said the curfew had impinged on people’s rights, inflicted financial pain on the retail sector and led to shoppers congregating in larger numbers during the daytime.

However, a Roy Morgan poll released on Thursday found that 70 per cent of 2325 Victorians surveyed approved of the way Mr Andrews was handling his job as Premier and 63 per cent said the curfew should remain.

More than half the participants said Melbourne residents should now be able to visit immediate family members and 46 per cent said the five-kilometre travel limit should be lifted. More than three-quarters said the government should compensate all small businesses forced to close due to lockdown restrictions.

It follows revelations that health bureaucrats stopped Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton taking control of the state’s coronavirus response against his wishes and in contradiction to the government's own pandemic plan.

Victoria's hotel quarantine inquiry heard on Thursday that Health Department deputy secretary Melissa Skilbeck advised her department secretary that Professor Sutton would be too busy in his lead advisory role and as the public face of the pandemic response to also serve as state controller.

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