Victorians have shouldered an unprecedented burden over the past nine months.

Today’s easing of COVID restrictions is long overdue and desperately needed for the millions of Melburnians who have been under strict lockdown since July.

Removing the ‘ring of steel’ and reuniting Melbourne and regional Victoria means families can reconnect, friends can reconnect and we can get out and see our state again.

With just four active cases in a state of nearly 6.5 million people, Victorians were rightly expecting more than we got today.

The low indoor gathering limits on religious ceremonies and funerals will continue to divide families at a time when we are most seeking to connect.

Many restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars still won’t be able to open with the Government’s decision to continue to enforce a limit of 10 people per space. For those Victorians who have already spent many months out of a job, this means more weeks without work and more weeks of lost income.

The Andrews Labor Government has had nine months to get the basics right.

We’re all prepared to do the heavy lifting to get this virus under control, but the rules need to be based on common sense.

As the weather heats up and cases stay low, the rules around masks must be reviewed.

While all Victorians can understand the need for masks in high density settings such as the local supermarket, hardware store or on public transport, it is harder to understand the need for masks on people out alone walking the dog, fishing or playing golf.

Daniel Andrews has admitted that on masks he has gone beyond the public health advice. Victorians should not be subject to any more ‘Captain’s calls’ from the Premier whose government caused Victoria to suffer a second wave.

Now that Victoria has moved to the third step, it’s time for immediate action to implement genuine support for businesses and communities to recover.

I’m urging the Andrews Labor Government to adopt the Liberal Nationals plan to get Victorians back to work and back in business.

Our back to work plan is all about creating jobs for Victoria, it’s all about making sure we can get Victorians back into work and to revive industries that have taken a beating from the second wave of shutdowns.

Victorians have done the hard work and got case numbers down. We now deserve common-sense rules to safely set us on the path to COVID normal.