Ballarat's seven-day lockdown has ended, but there will still be some time before restrictions fully end.
The snap lockdown officially ended at 11.59pm on Wednesday, with health officials satisfied the outbreak was under control after more than 10 per cent of the city was tested.
There were 18 cases in total, and testing will continue at several sites across the city in the next few days.
Exposure sites are still being added to the state government's official list - at time of writing, the GovHub building had been downgraded to a Tier 2 site.
The end of lockdown means people will be allowed to leave the house to meet up with up to 10 others outside, and visit retail and other businesses.
Hospitality will still be restricted to 10 people inside and 20 people outside, and religious ceremonies will have a limit of 20 people.
Masks will remain a requirement outside the house, and people will not be allowed to visit each other in private residences.
The state government's roadmap out of restrictions was released on Sunday, and is based on vaccination targets - Ballarat hit the 50 per cent double-jabbed mark earlier this week.
City of Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said it was "brilliant news" to be getting out of lockdown.
"Through lockdown eight, I think people were right to be a bit cynical, that it'd be more than seven days, maybe bracing themselves for a two or three week lockdown," he said.
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"(But) the response has been brilliant, there's been huge amounts of people showing up at testing sites, the vaccination rate's getting back on track, and people have been isolating when they need to.
The QR codes, people staying home, it's all combined so it was easy for the contact tracers to get on top of it."
Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett said the lifting will be welcomed, but density restrictions will still bite many businesses hard.
"I think if you take anything from what's been a really tough time, you take how incredible our community really is, they stepped up right away to be tested and vaccinated, they stepped up online to shop and offer messages of support," she said.
"Many businesses are still restricted - they're not going to break even, let alone get in front, but they keep boxing on, so keep supporting them, be understanding of the restrictions they're working within.
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"We're going to see some real improvement, but not for a few months."
In Buninyong, The Shared Table's owner and chef Dianne Ray said she was keen to open back up as soon as she could.
Even with a dine-at-home option, "everything went suddenly quiet, everyone had gone to ground" when the lockdown was announced.
"This week, now that we're allowed to open, it's tricky again," she said.
"We've got to navigate a public holiday, with massive penalty rates, plus only 10 people indoors makes it hard to cover any wages.
"Our outdoor dining area is as good as you can get, it's under the cover of a big verandah with heaters in the ceiling, big patio heaters, and blinds all the way down to the ground, you can't get wet at all."
Working with the challenge of dining at home menus and limited numbers of people inside has changed her approach to designing menu, Ms Ray added.
"I really enjoy having a challenge, and it's really brought out the creativity - I think (the pandemic) made people think further and broader than they might ordinarily think, and if you embrace it, it's quite a stimulating time," she said.
"This 60 seat restaurant can only have 10 people right now, that's discouraging, so how can you create an atmosphere? It's been fascinating to watch how other people have navigated it as well, and I've enjoyed the creativity side of it.
"I've also found it exhausting - for a very small gain, you're trying to keep on thinking and be two seconds ahead of the changes.
"The reduced dining is difficult, you create a space to be beautiful and make people feel welcome, it creates an environment that enhances what you're doing on the plate, and suddenly you can only have 10 people, it's a challenge to make it an experience.
"But, now it's time to get out and celebrate, catch up with mates, and we can do it outside."
Cr Moloney said studies from previous lockdowns showed it took about six weeks for most hospitality businesses to rebound to at least where they were, an effort that will take longer with the harsher, lingering roadmap restrictions.
"They didn't even have that chance between lockdowns five, six, seven, and eight, it's been one after another," he said.
"It will be a challenge for business to figure out resourcing for coming months - right now it's a pretty conservative reopening for hospitality in particular, but it progressively ramps up.
"There will be probably be staffing issues in the lead up to the new year (but) hopefully there's a chance to lure employees back to the city, otherwise it'll be a sector that will need serious recruitment drives.
"Data shows Melbourne will have been in lockdown from August 6 through to about November 5 or 6 - that's fully locked down, no freedoms - and Melburnians will be itching to get to regional Victoria in huge numbers.
"It happened in January, and it'll happen again in November, and this is awesome for our businesses if they're ready for it.
"If you don't have staff ready, it'd be such a shame where we're in a situation where people are having to be turned away."
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said Ballarat residents had been doing everything right, but reiterated calls to get vaccinated as soon as possible to push forward the reopening date.
"Congratulations and thankyou to Ballarat Health Services, the City of Ballarat, and the state government for getting on top of this so quickly," he said.
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"The response, with the mass testing sites going up over night, shows a real readiness of city leaders to respond in emergency situations.
"And also Ballarat responding the way they did, with the community jumping in behind that.
"This is the opportunity for us to put the foot on the accelerator and get to 80 per cent fully vaccinated and beyond - Moderna coming online is a real boost, the opportunity for pharmacies to deliver Moderna is going to help accelerate the effort too."
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