In a kick in the teeth to city residents anticipating the end of lockdown tonight, the Victorian Government has already walked back on one major aspect of the incoming relaxed restrictions in Melbourne, with face masks to now remain mandatory in all outdoor and indoor spaces.

Previously, acting premier James Merlino had asserted that Melburnians would no longer be required to wear face masks in outdoor spaces once hard lockdown conditions end at 11:59pm tonight. However, four new mystery COVID cases recorded in the past 24 hours have put the brakes on things slightly as the city prepares to, once again, re-emerge from behind closed doors.

Fronting media a short time ago, Merlino stated “I can confirm that the easing of restrictions that we announced yesterday will proceed as planned from 11:59pm tonight with one small exception for Melbourne. Masks will continue to be required to be worn outdoors in all circumstances.”

The four new cases of concern are being investigated for potential links to existing outbreaks, however no known link was immediately apparent. The cases are confined to one household in Reservoir. A man in his 80s is said to have become symptomatic on June 7th, and sought a test the following day. Subsequently, three other residents of the house – a woman in her 80s, a man in his 50s, and a man in his 20s – have all returned positive tests.

In accordance, the list of exposure sites has been updated with a string now attached to the new Reservoir family cluster. The locations in the area are all classified as Tier 2, and include – would you believe – Bunnings Thomastown.

The restrictions easing in Melbourne tonight mean that Melburnians will no longer have to abide by the five reasons to leave the house, with the travel bubble extended to 25km. Pubs and cafes will be permitted to re-open with venue caps of 50, and offices will be able to return with 25% capacity. Indoor private gatherings are still off the cards, however outdoor gatherings of 10 will be allowed. Which is literal cold comfort given how dogshit awful the weather in Melbourne is right now.

Further updates on restrictions easing are expected next week.

Image: Getty Images / Darrian Traynor