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Melburnians awoke to grey skies and slightly eased restrictions on Wednesday as the state recorded 950 new local coronavirus cases and seven deaths.

The case numbers are the highest recorded so far in Victoria, and the number of deaths is the highest recorded in the state this year.

The travel limit has been extended from 10 kilometres to 15 kilometres for residents of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, non-contact outdoor activities including golf are back on the agenda and long-suffering parents can again remove their masks to eat and drink at playgrounds.

Golfers can return to the greens – again. Credit:Joe Armao

The eased restrictions kicked in on the day the state reached 80 per cent first-dose vaccination targets.

Wednesday’s new coronavirus cases come from 61,322 tests. There are now 9890 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria while 34,028 people rolled up their sleeves for a coronavirus jab.

The Latrobe Valley was placed back into a seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Tuesday after health authorities revealed a number of households in the area had a social gathering over the weekend. They are now under the same restrictions as metropolitan Melbourne minus the curfew.

A health department spokesperson said cases in the City of Latrobe had rapidly increased in recent days, with 18 active cases in the area as of Tuesday. A further four cases were also confirmed on Tuesday afternoon, and were included in Wednesday’s numbers.

“The public health teams have significant concerns about onward transmission in the Latrobe Valley and have determined that the seven-day lockdown is needed to limit growth in cases, as it did in Ballarat and Geelong,” the spokesperson said.

“A rapid response testing team has been deployed to provide support for the testing site at the indoor sports stadium on Ashby Street in Traralgon, and additional resources will be provided to boost capacity and extend opening hours.

“Locals are asked to be on high alert for symptoms and get tested if any develop.”

Cheltenham Golf Club manager Calum McCarthy said that, by Wednesday morning, the club was booked out until about Sunday.

Mr McCarthy started in the job about four weeks ago, but Wednesday was his first day putting faces to names because of lockdown restrictions.

“Everyone’s just smiling, even though you can’t really see the smiles under the masks, but everyone’s just very happy to be back and playing golf,” he said.

“We believe it to be a safe environment and it’s good to see that the government has come around and realised that as well.”

For the time being, the club was letting both vaccinated and unvaccinated players on the course, but it had flagged with members that would change by about mid-October.

“A lot of local golf clubs in the area are going down the path of a “no jab, no play” policy; we thought it’s best because we’ve obviously got a duty of care with regards to our members, the public, our staff,” Mr McCarthy said.

“The uptake from our membership base has been fantastic.

“I’ve had one or two dealings with our membership base of 500 with regards to questions about the policy [that] we’re planning on putting in place, but everybody else has been showing me their COVID vaccine certificates so we can update their profiles to notify our staff that … they are vaccinated.”

Restaurants and cafes across the rest of regional Victoria can now increase their outdoor venue cap from 20 to 30 people.

Regional Victorians can also remove their masks at hair and beauty salons if a service, like a facial or beard trimming, requires it.

With Erin Pearson

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