The reopening of Melbourne restaurants, cafés and pubs has been flagged for October 19, as the city tracks ahead of schedule in Victoria's roadmap towards a new COVID normal.
In a press conference this afternoon, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he expected Melbourne to take the third step out of restrictions a week earlier than planned, as new daily COVID-19 cases continue to drive down across the state.
Hospitality venues were originally slated to reopen on October 26 with predominantly outdoor seated service, and density limits in place.
"This is a strategy that is designed to get us to a COVID normal Christmas. We are well on track, in fact, we are ahead of time when it comes to achieving that outcome," the Premier said.
"That is a credit to every single Victorian who is staying the course, working hard, making sacrifices.
"We have to get this done, we have to complete this task."
On September 28, metropolitan Melbourne will move to the second stage of eased restrictions, which includes the removal of the 9pm curfew, and up to five people from a maximum of two households allowed in outdoor gatherings.
Restaurants and cafés are still restricted to takeaway, and the five-kilometre radius rule continue to apply.
Melbourne will progress to the third step if the state records a daily average of fewer than five new cases, and fewer than five new cases of unknown community transmission, over a 14-day period.
Victoria recorded 16 new cases overnight. Today, metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day daily case average is 22.1, according to the ABC.