Lockdown restrictions could remain imposed on Victorians for many weeks, Daniel Andrews has hinted.
The Victorian Premier is set to reveal a decision on Sunday about whether his government will ease the strict Stage 4 rules that have closed down Melbourne for more than a month.
However, speaking on Saturday as Victoria announced another 76 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths, Mr Andrews hinted that the prohibitive measures would continue as long as COVID-19 remains a threat.
Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, and Stage 3 in the rest of the state, were set to lift on September 13 at 11.59pm after weeks of enduring the miserable lockdown
Lockdown restrictions could remain imposed on Victorians for many weeks yet, the state's premier has hinted, ahead of a major announcement scheduled for Sunday
'To open up with those numbers would, of course, see the total number of coronavirus infections explode. It would see many, many hundreds, indeed thousands, of Victorians infected with this virus,' he said.
Mr Andrews acknowledged that while restrictions were 'frustrating' for the majority of people, his government would 'stay the course'.
He said Sunday's 'road map' will reveal how his government will only loosen restrictions to 'ease out of the second wave, once it's appropriately and properly defeated'.
Victorian police officers pin down a man who had attended the march in Melbourne on Saturday (pictured) as thousands breached health laws
Police line up on horseback in Melbourne as hundreds of protesters descend onto the coronavirus-riddled city
Melbourne's Stage 4 lockdown, which includes an 8pm to 5am curfew, and the rest of Victoria's Stage 3 measures were scheduled to end at 11:59pm on September 13.
In another hint they could be extended, a document leaked on Thursday appeared to show the Stage 4 rules would continue for another two weeks.
According to the leaked road map, which was obtained by the Herald Sun, residents will be given the luxury of two hours of exercise a day, which can be split into two sessions, from September 14.
Single people and single parents would also be given the right to have a nominated visitor at their home.
A woman without a mask is seen holding a sign that reads: 'End the lockdown the people are suffering' during Saturday's protest
Police then clashed with the protester and took away her anti-lockdown signs (pictured) as cops clashed with Melburnians
However, restrictions on businesses and the curfew would remain in place until a bigger set of changes are introduced on September 28, which would include the curfew being lifted and increased social gatherings.
But the Victorian Chamber of Commerce has said the road map is an older version and there is no plan to extend Stage 4 lockdowns.
The Victorian government has also said the leaked road map was merely a draft, however, Mr Andrews dropped yet another breadcrumb on Thursday by not ruling out extending the lockdown.
Everything is on the table,' he admitted. 'It will be driven by the data and the science, how many cases there are, the types of cases there are.'
Frustration has been growing among Melbourne residents with tensions boiling over in the form of protests on Saturday near the Shrine of Remembrance in the city's CBD.
One man is seen caught in a scuffle with a Victorian police officer during the protest (pictured on Saturday) with wild scenes caught on camera
The mass crowds or protesters were outmatched by police who swarmed the Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday
More than 1,000 anti-lockdown protesters descended on the city's parklands in a 'Freedom Day' rally where they were met with police out in force.
Scores of activists turned out to demand the restrictions come to an end, with new coronavirus cases now steadily in the double digits.
Shocking footage of the protest shows