Ring of steel tightens around Melbourne as lockdown is lifted in regional Victoria TODAY

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The ring of steel containing Melbourne during the coronavirus pandemic has been intensified ahead of eased restrictions in regional Victoria.  

Regional parts of the state will progress to the third step in Premier Daniel Andrews’ lockdown reopening roadmap at 11.59pm on Wednesday night.  

Victoria Police and Australian Defence Force personnel have increased checks on cars at the city borders to curb the expected rush of exiting residents. 

Authorities anticipate a wave of Melburnians will seek to leave the city in search of eased community restrictions, 3AW reported.  

The ring of steel will tighten around Metropolitan Melbourne's city borders with increased police checks (police checkpoint pictured) as regional Victoria lifts coronavirus lockdown

The ring of steel will tighten around Metropolitan Melbourne’s city borders with increased police checks (police checkpoint pictured) as regional Victoria lifts coronavirus lockdown

Regional Victoria will enter the Third Step of Premier Daniel Andrews' lockdown reopening roadmap at 11.59pm on Wednesday night (Melbourne residents pictured on Monday)

Regional Victoria will enter the Third Step of Premier Daniel Andrews’ lockdown reopening roadmap at 11.59pm on Wednesday night (Melbourne residents pictured on Monday) 

One motorist, Eddie, who drives from Torquay to Melbourne daily, said he already noticed the change. 

‘Last night was the first time I’ve had a queue of over two kilometres going to Geelong,’ he explained. 

Police checkpoints have been set up around the Melbourne border and target main roads out of the city. 

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton has previously warned motorists about a ‘significant police presence’ along the Hume Freeway, Calder Freeway and Princes Freeway heading to Geelong. 

The four reasons to leave your home will no longer apply, most workplaces will reopen and schools will return with a staggered start in regional Victoria. 

Gathering limits will also increase to 10 people outdoors and up to five nominated visitors from another household bubble. 

Restaurants will operate with a cap of 10 seated patrons indoors and 50 outdoors. 

Gathering limits will increase to 10 people at weddings, 20 mourners at funerals and 10 people plus one faith leader at outdoor religious gatherings.

Children can also return to community sport and adults will be able to take part in non-contact sport. 

Melburnians (pictured at Elwood beach) are expected to flock to regional Victoria in search of eased restrictions as outdoor gathering limits are raised to 10 and restaurant dining resumes

Melburnians (pictured at Elwood beach) are expected to flock to regional Victoria in search of eased restrictions as outdoor gathering limits are raised to 10 and restaurant dining resumes  

Mr Andrews announced the eased restrictions for regional Victorians on Tuesday.  

‘There are no new cases in regional Victoria and that means there are just 43 active cases across regional Local Government Areas.  

‘I am absolutely delighted to be able to announce that regional Victoria from 11.59pm tomorrow night will be able to take the Third Step,’ he said.

The premier commended regional Victorians for adhering to the tough lockdown.  

‘I am so, so pleased and proud of every single regional Victorian who has stayed the course, follow the rules and got tested.  

Regional Victorians can also enjoy five visitors from a nominated household, a return to work and a staggered start to schooling in term 4 (residents at South Melbourne Beach pictured)

Regional Victorians can also enjoy five visitors from a nominated household, a return to work and a staggered start to schooling in term 4 (residents at South Melbourne Beach pictured) 

‘There is no greater evidence to the people of Melbourne that this strategy, getting numbers low, is essential,’ Mr Andrews explained.  

The premier is expected to announced stricter checks at the Melbourne border and harsher penalties for city residents travelling without a permitted reason on Wednesday.     

Victoria recorded zero COVID-19 deaths and 42 additional cases of the virus on Tuesday. 

Melbourne also took its first tentative steps out of lockdown on Monday, with those living alone or single parents allowed to have one visitor, outdoor exercise extended to two hours and the curfew’s start time extended an hour to 9pm.       

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Victoria Police for comment.  

WHAT REGIONAL VICTORIANS WILL BE ALLOWED TO DO UNDER EASED LOCKDOWN RULES

Outdoor gathering limits will increase to 10 people. That number does not include infants under the age of 12 months.

People in regional Victoria will also be able to leave their homes without restriction. 

Limits for outdoor religious gatherings and weddings will increase to 10 people, while funeral limits will rise to 20 mourners.

Five visitors are allowed in a home from a nominated household.

Schools will return to normal operation over the first two weeks of Term 4.  

Outdoor auctions will be allowed to have a maximum of 10 people in attendance.

Children can return to community sport and adults can take part in non-contact sport.  

Regional Victorians can travel and holiday within regional parts of the state – with tourist accommodation in those areas also opening up 

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