Mr Kelly and his partner have not been able to see their own parents, who live long distances away.

He said the separation had been particularly frustrating for the new grandparents who were “super keen” to meet Max.

“They’re taking it a lot harder than we are.”

But Mr Kelly said he was keen for regional Victoria to move beyond step two, which Premier Daniel Andrews said could happen as soon as this week.

“We’re more than ready to get out and go to the pub and even go to the gym.”

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Maddie Dowel, who was due to give birth on Monday, said it was surreal to see Max in person.

But she quickly warmed to the new addition in their social circle. “It wasn’t long before it felt he was meant to be here,” she said. “It was lovely”.

Seeing friends in a small group also provided a brief moment of normality in the pandemic.

“I felt we all relaxed for a little while. It was a little bit of normal we could experience even with the masks.”

Ms Dowel has had the support of her mother, who lives nearby, while preparing for the arrival of her baby. But even so she has had to go to some medical appointments without the support of her partner.

“It’s definitely been an experience being pregnant in a pandemic.”

Further east towards Wilsons Promontory, Foster Community Association member Tom Holman said the loosening of restrictions would come as a great relief in regional towns, particularly for children and youths, although communities would need reassurance they were safe from the virus.

“For the mental health and wellbeing of all people this will be important,” he said.

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Benjamin is The Age’s regional editor. He was previously state rounds reporter and has also covered education for The Age.

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