Frustrated Melbourne residents must wait another 24 to 48 hours before likely getting the all-clear to take significant steps out of COVID-19 lockdown, with health authorities sweating on an outbreak in the city's north.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews opted to withhold rule easing on Sunday as the state waited for the results of more than 1000 swabs taken from the northern suburbs.
Department of Health and Human Services testing chief Jeroen Weimar later confirmed all 1135 test results had come back negative.
Another 1400 swabs from Sunday have been taken to laboratories, with testing to continue into the evening.
Rather than a "setback", Mr Andrews dubbed the delay a "cautious pause" to rule out there wasn't wider community transmission linked to the northern metropolitan outbreak.
"I know it is frustrating," he told reporters.
"I know people are keen to have a long and detailed list of changes to the rules. It is not appropriate for us to do that now."
Mr Weimar noted about 250 close contacts had been tested on Saturday, with a further 60 being followed up on Sunday to determine how far the virus has spread.
Victoria reported seven new coronavirus cases on Sunday, with six linked to the cluster that involves 39 people across 11 households.
The premier hopes to unveil rule changes by Tuesday and insists Melbourne is "still well and truly on track" to reopen in keeping with its initial November 1 timetable.
Melbourne's all-important two-week rolling case average has fallen to 4.6, below the threshold of five that authorities have coveted to trigger the next step.
The figure remains steady in regional Victoria at 0.2.
There have been nine mystery cases in Melbourne for the fortnight to Thursday and none in regional areas.
Former Victorian health minister Jenny Mikakos said Sunday's delay was "unnecessary" after hitting the benchmark, and was evidence of "paralysis in decision-making".
Mr Andrews refused to weigh in on her comments, while chief health officer Brett Sutton noted she and other detractors weren't "in the tent".
That included federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who said there shouldn't be any barrier to Victoria reopening in line with NSW.
Earlier last week, Mr Andrews had said Victoria was "very well placed" before tempering rule easing expectations on Saturday after the state reported seven cases.
Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said the premier had failed to hold up his end of the bargain with Victorians.
"He's lied to us yet again," he said.
There was some good news for regional Victoria on Sunday, however, with restrictions to be wound back for some businesses and activities from 11.59pm on Tuesday.
Gyms and fitness studios will be able to open with up to 20 people - 10 per class, group or space - with density limits.
In addition, food courts can reopen and live music is allowed in outdoor hospitality settings.
Up to 20 people plus a faith leader will be allowed to attend indoor religious gatherings, with that number rising to 50 if outdoors. Outdoor funerals can also have 50 people attend.
Non-contact indoor community sport for those 18 and under will return, while indoor swimming pools will be able to have up to 20 people taking a dip.
Greater Shepparton, the site of a recent outbreak, will also be brought into line with the rest of regional Victoria from 11.59pm on Sunday.
Another death-free day kept the state's virus toll at 817 and the national toll at 905.
Australian Associated Press