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Victorians could be facing Christmas in facemasks, expert warns

Victorians could be celebrating Christmas in facemasks, an expert has warned, if virus numbers haven't dropped to single figures by then.

UNSW Epidemiologist, Professor Marylouise McLaws, told 9News the state's numbers need to come down to double figures for at least 10 days, she believes, before the current stage four restrictions are eased.

While Melbourne's daily figures have started to decline, with today's numbers the lowest for almost a month, there were still 278 people confirmed to have COVID-19.

READ MORE: Coronavirus live updates

And while Professor McLaws expects that drop will happen in four to six weeks – Melbourne's current rules are in place for another month.

These rules - like mandatory masks wearing, a night curfew and a ban on gatherings - should continue until single figures are achieved, she believes.

And with December only four months away, it could mean a very different Christmas ahead.

READ MORE: NSW residents 'strongly recommended' to wear masks

"As an epidemiologist I would be waiting for figures to get down into double figures, and still have the curfew until you get down to single figures," she told 9news.com.au.

"I'm cautiously optimistic, but you will still need to wear a mask at work and out in public.

"Christmas shopping in masks, absolutely - and crowd control in shops."

Plus Professor McLaws says families in Victoria could remain separated over the festive holidays depending on if virus hotspots emerge.

Other states such as Queensland, South Australia, the NT and Western Australia have also indicated borders will remain closed for months.

READ MORE: Exclusive: 'I am going to end up homeless' : Aussies 'abandoned' overseas as flight restrictions extended

Australian residents originally from overseas certainly face Christmas apart from relatives.

The overseas travel ban is something which won't change for "a long time", because the risks of contracting the virus while transiting or overseas in places such as Europe, are too great, she said.

Victoria and NSW will have to "gain a lot of ground" before travel to New Zealand is even be allowed, Professor McLaws said.

While places like China could create a travel corridor for expats to visit, if case numbers there remain low.

READ MORE: What stage 4 restrictions mean

As well as Christmas, as reported by 9News, councils are already scrambling to work out what will happen on New Year's Eve.

Professor McLaws said the mix of alcohol and crowds of people, would mean it would be "cavalier" to hold fireworks events.

"2020 going into 2021, will be different," she said.

Yesterday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews could not say what would happen with restrictions in the state in coming months, but warned if they hadn't happened, it would be in lockdown until next year.

"I would love to be able to confirm for you what we're going to be facing in October - we can't know that," Mr Andrews said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Interstate travel 'a long way off'

"If we don't drive down movement, if we simply won't drive down the case numbers, we have absolutely zero chance of getting to the other side of this any time soon.

"It won't be a six-week strategy, it will be much, much longer. We will be into 2021 with significant lockdowns in place. That's not acceptable."

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians. Visit the site here or call 1800512348For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-victoria-christmas-face-masks-stage-four-lockdown-saysunsw-epidemiologistexclusive/0b88e1f1-f30c-442b-ac13-4dbe6e1cbbb5

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