Victoria records 14 new cases, eight deaths

Victoria's COVID-19 daily case tally remains in the low double digits, with 14 new infections reported on Friday.

Sadly, eight more Victorians have lost their lives.

It brings metropolitan Melbourne's rolling 14-day average to 25.1, while regional Victoria's average has fallen below one to 0.8.

It comes as Premier Daniel Andrews prepares to be grilled over Victoria’s bungled hotel quarantine program at the state's inquiry from 2.15pm on Friday.

With only one session left of the inquiry, no government minister, police officer or emergency management boss has said they know whose decision it was to use private security to guard returned travellers. The decision not to bring Australian Defence Force soldiers in to help is also mired in confusion.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told the inquiry on Thursday that she had not been involved in the hotel program’s set-up and did not seek updates on it until two months later, after the first coronavirus outbreaks, even though her department was the lead agency.

Victoria recorded 12 new cases on Thursday, with the majority of those linked to either nursing homes or hospitals.

Mr Andrews has confirmed more restrictions will be eased this weekend than originally planned, but warned Victorians against hoping for "massive steps" out of lockdown.

The previously flagged changes include public gatherings of up to five people from two households, the reopening of childcare centres to all families and reopening classrooms to more students.

But Mr Andrews said October 26 would remain as the review date for Melbourne's 9pm-5am curfew, which is the subject of a legal challenge.

Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens will throw open its ornate gates for the first time in seven weeks on Saturday.

Those living within five kilometres of the gardens will be able to enter from 7.30am, while Cranbourne Gardens will reopen on Monday at 9am.

"Like everyone else we had to pull back on our maintenance staff and tree care to not have people moving around," director of the Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria Tim Entwisle told 3AW Breakfast.

"It’s a great place to wander through and get a bit of health and vitality."

Meanwhile, out-of-work Australians will have their income support dropped to $815 a fortnight from Friday, under a government shake-up of unemployment benefits.

The coronavirus supplement will be reduced to $250, down from $550, on Friday. Mutual obligations – which force those seeking work to apply for jobs to continue receiving benefits – will come back into force on Monday, except in Victoria.

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