VISITOR restrictions and added infection screening measures will remain in place as Ballarat Health Services steps up elective surgeries from Thursday.
BHS confirmed it would start increasing surgeries in line with Victorian health department directives to gradually reach 75 per cent capacity, then up to 85 per cent capacity from September 28.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced the targets on Wednesday as part of the government's roadmap to a COVID-normal, based on public health advice.
This comes as regional Victoria moves into step three in eased restrictions, which include a gradual move back into hospitality dining and more lenient social restrictions.
BHS chief executive officer Dale Fraser said community welfare - including patients, residents and staff - remained top priority and, as such, the health services' strict infection control measures will continue.
This will still mean no visitors allowed unless prior approval on compassionate grounds to all BHS sites. Masks and temperature screenings are mandatory for visitors to BHS Base Hospital, mental health services and Queen Elizabeth Centre.
While this change in elective surgery is a mark of the steps being taken to reopen regional Victoria, we won't be letting our guard down just yet.Dale Fraser, Ballarat Health Services chief
"The increase in capacity for elective surgery is a positive step, and we look forward to being able to provide these important services to those who have been patiently waiting," Mr Fraser said.
"While this change in elective surgery is a mark of the steps being taken to reopen regional Victoria, we won't be letting our guard down just yet...We will continue to do all we can to prevent COVID-19 transmission in our community."
City of Ballarat has chalked up one week without any active cases. Regional Victoria had 37 active cases on Wednesday, down six from a day earlier, and more than half of the active cases are in the Colac Otway Shire.
Minister Mikakos said it was important to stagger steps up in elective surgery in order to remain flexible to better respond to potential COVID-19 outbreaks as communities re-opened.
The government is planning an elective surgery blitz once the state has returned to 100 per cent "usual" activity.
Specialist clinic consultations will also increase from Thursday but telehealth options will be used when possible to reduce face-to-face contact.
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