There is reason for genuine hope, however. Just over five weeks ago, the second wave peaked with 725 positive cases in a single day. With the seven-day average above 500, and the death toll mounting, it was a grim time. And yet, for all the concerns over contact tracing, and rampant outbreaks in aged care homes and public housing, the virus has been in a slow but steady retreat. The collective effort of so many is once again flattening the curve.

It appears highly likely that regional Victoria will soon move to its next stage of easing. With no restrictions on staying home, open air dining allowed, students returning to school, and up to 10 people allowed to gather in public, this will give Melburnians a glimpse of what should lie ahead.

While still some way behind, Melbourne is on track to reach its next stage of easing on September 28. The target of the 14-day average needing to fall below 50 will probably be reached soon, but Premier Daniel Andrews is adamant that Melbourne will not be easing up early. With about 1000 Victorians still infected with the virus, there is need for caution.

Mr Andrews often repeats his road map mantra of a “safe and steady” path out of lockdown. But it should be acknowledged that with some weeks to go before reaching a COVID-19 “normal” in Melbourne, frustration will continue to bubble away. There will be times when people lash out, or overstep the line. That will hopefully be tempered by Victoria’s new trajectory towards a less confined life.

We should never forget how far beyond our normal lived experience this year has been. It has tested, and will continue to test, each and every one of us. But hopefully the slow road we must travel to put the worst behind us will not be one we need to tread again.

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