Coronavirus in Victoria: 324 new COVID cases as regional lockdown lift approaches

Of the 324 cases confirmed in Victoria today, just two are in regional Victoria.

Victoria's COVID commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed on Thursday morning that the two cases are not of significant concern for authorities.

The two cases, one in Shepparton and one in Mitchell Shire, are both primary close contacts of previous cases.

He also said cases in Mildura and Bellarine Peninsula reported on Wednesday had not spread, while the Latrobe Valley case had returned a secondary negative result.

Mr Weimar also said there were 195 cases in Melbourne's northern suburbs and 102 in the western suburbs.

Victoria's COVID commander Jeroen Weimar.

Victoria's COVID commander Jeroen Weimar.

The update comes as regional Victoria counts down the hours until lockdowns eases.

When asked if regional Victoria was lifting its restrictions too early given soaring case numbers in Melbourne, health minister Martin Foley praised the regions for the sense of caution when it came to vaccinations and following rules.

"There is a deeper sense of ownership and engagement in regional communities with the health services," he said.

"We see it in the higher levels of vaccinations, we are confident on the public health advice, that very measured changes that will come to light, are proportionate.

"It's up to all of us, especially our regional communities to safeguard that by following those rules, making sure that only permitted workers and for permitted reasons travel from metropolitan Melbourne to the regions and vice-versa."

See where all the active cases are here

Meanwhile, Hundreds of police are headed for regional Victoria to keep Melburnians from fleeing as country residents prepare to revel in more COVID-19 freedoms.

All of regional Victoria except for Greater Shepparton is set to exit lockdown just before midnight on Thursday, with cafes, restaurants and bars able to fling open their doors with strict patron limits.

About 200 police officers will be sent to patrol the edges of Melbourne and Shepparton to ensure people do not leave locked-down areas.

Booze buses, random checkpoints, roving patrols and number plate recognition technology will be used to catch out rule-breakers, rather than the "ring of steel" approach adopted last year.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent conceded some Melburnians might be tempted to try their luck, but warned they faced a $5452 fine.

"That's a huge fine just for heading into the regional areas for a cafe meal, or a restaurant meal or a pub meal. So please don't," he told reporters.

This story Just two of Victoria's 324 new COVID cases in regions first appeared on The Courier.