Retail groups have welcomed the easing of lockdown restrictions in Victoria from midnight Thursday.
Retailers that have been closed during this lockdown will be allowed to reopen, alongside kids returning to schools, and cafes, restaurants and pubs reopening.
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said that businesses in Victoria will be breathing a deep sigh of relief.
"COVID has wreaked havoc across Australia and the world, but Victoria has been dealt a particularly brutal blow.
"Not only has it been the state’s fourth lockdown, but Victorian businesses have had to navigate this one without the JobKeeper safety net.
"The NRA estimates that the fourth Victorian lockdown has cost retail businesses a collective $2 billion over the 14-day stretch.
"We urge shoppers to make a conscious effort to support retailers across Victoria once restrictions are formally lifted.
"Throughout the pandemic retailers have demonstrated an impeccable ability to enforce and maintain the highest possible safety protocols.
"Shoppers have nothing to fear by visiting the shops once Victoria comes out of lockdown on Friday," she said.
Other key restrictions easing in metro Melbourne include the dissolution of the five reasons to leave home, an extension of the travel net to 25 kilometres from home and the ability to gather outdoors in a group of 10.
Mask rules will be eased slightly and will be required inside and outdoors when 1.5 metres isn’t possible.
In regional Victoria, restrictions will also ease further.
Visitors to the home will be allowed – limited to two people and their dependants – once per day while public outdoor gatherings will be limited to 20 people.
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino thanked Victorians for their cooperation during the lockdown.
"Thanks doesn’t seem enough, but I’ll say it anyway.
"To every Victorian for following the rules, for doing the right thing, and for doing it with kindness and compassion – thank you.
"As much as we’ve achieved – this isn’t over. And it’s up to all of us to protect this precious thing we’ve worked so hard for.
"That means staying COVIDSafe – most importantly, getting tested if you have any symptoms.
"It’s singlehandedly the biggest contribution we can make, ensuring that if the virus is circulating – we catch it early.
"Whether you do it for your family, your mates or your state – if you’re sick, get tested," he said.