THE Australian city of Melbourne is to remain in lockdown until October 26 at the very earliest as officials believe Covid-19 case numbers are still too high.
Over the weekend, Victoria state announced that from the start of next month, there will be a gradual easing of restrictions in the city, but confirmed that lockdown will officially remain for another seven weeks.
Australia's second largest city entered a second lockdown on July 9 after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
A 5km (3 mile) travel limit and night time curfew was imposed while shops and businesses were closed.
It was initially intended to end on September 13, but now the decision has been made to extend the deadline.
Melbourne has become the epicentre for Australia's second wave of coronavirus, with 90% of their 753 deaths occurring in the city.
In total Australia has recorded a total of 26,000 cases in a population of 25 million.
Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews said at a news conference: "There is only one option and that is to do this in a series of steady and safe steps. You can't run out of lockdown. Because all you are doing is running into a third wave and we'll all be locked up again.
"We can't open up at this time. If we were to we would lose control very quickly... I want a Christmas that is as close to normal as possible and this is the only way, these steps are the only way that we will get to that point."
Curfew in the city will be expanded from 21:00 to 05:00. Single people will be allowed to form a bubble and visit each other, and current travel limits will not apply to these meetings.