The North-East will take tentative steps out of the latest COVID-19 lockdown late on Thursday barring a late explosion of cases in regional Victoria.
Frustrated business owners forced into the state's fourth shutdown will be given a slight reprieve rather than a snap back to pre-lockdown conditions with pubs, restaurants, cafes only able to reopen with strict caps of 50 people.
Retail, beauty and personal care businesses, entertainment venues and community facilities are also reopening with strict density limits.
Students are going back to school and auctions can resume.
There have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria since the start of the lockdown even though the Glenrowan BP service station became an exposure site late on Tuesday.
Still shut in regional areas are gyms, indoor sports and play centres and adult community sport participants including Australian Rules, netball and soccer players can resume training, but there is no date for competition return.
Masks also need to stay on and accommodation bookings are limited to single households, intimate partners or nominated single social bubble person.
Wodonga's Delibean cafe owner George Siperki said the latest lockdown had been tough.
"The hardest part is just the uncertainty," he said.
"It's especially difficult for staff. They don't have an income or any certainty of life.
"It's a bit like a kindergarten. We are waiting for the teacher to tell us what is going on."
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Wodonga's Huon HIll Hotel owner Bill Perry said the government's decision to ease restrictions in regional Victoria before Melbourne was a breakthrough.
"For too long it has been a one size fits all response," he said.
"Although we aren't going to be back up and running at full tilt straight away, I'm thrilled our staff will be coming back to work and looking forward to welcoming our customers back."
The Victorian government confirmed the "ring of steel" wouldn't be coming back to prevent Melburnians travelling into regional areas for the Queen's Birthday long weekend.
"We know people who are highly motivated to break the rules will have a go anyway," Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
"They will be tracked through roving patrols and VicPol.
"They will also be highly managed by a highly motivated regional Victoria who doesn't want people from outside the region,who are not entitled to be there, to be coming accessing services or events."
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley said "at last" the government had recognised the COVID landscape was different in metropolitan and regional areas.
"But I'm holding my breath because all of this is subject to the health orders and I don't know what will happen if there's a case in regional Victoria tomorrow," he said.
"Interestingly, you can go to the pub with 49 strangers under these new restrictions but you can't have a couple of friends at home.
"I've asked for clarification, let's hope that's a typo.
"I know that tourism and businesses generally are suffering and so if you can afford it, please shop local, travel local and eat at our great local restaurants and cafes."
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