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Vic workplaces to return, mask rules eased

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Victorian workers can start returning to offices from Monday as mask rules are also eased.

But Premier Daniel Andrews says 18 people have returned to the state after they were quarantined in Brisbane's Grand Chancellor Hotel.

They are being contacted and are isolating.

The hotel has been shut down after six people linked to the facility tested positive to the highly-infectious UK coronavirus strain.

Victoria reached eight-straight days without any new local or interstate-acquired virus cases on Thursday.

That prompted Mr Andrews to announce private workplaces can return to 50 per cent capacity from Monday.

Public service offices can reopen at 25 per cent capacity.

The return to work rules were delayed a week because of Melbourne's Black Rock virus cluster.

Mask rules will also return to Christmas settings, meaning they will only be mandatory in some settings, including supermarkets, large indoor retail areas, public transport, hospitals and airports.

Mr Andrews also said the Sydney red zone will be reduced as soon as possible so more Victorians can return home.

Some 16,533 test results were received in the 24 hours to Thursday morning.

The first of 1200 international tennis players, support crew and officials are meanwhile expected to arrive in Melbourne for the Australian Open.

A charter flight carrying athletes and staff is scheduled to land at Tullamarine early on Thursday evening.

It will be the first of 15 incoming private flights over a 36-hour window in preparation for the annual grand slam at Melbourne Park.

All of the players are expected to be "processed" in airport hangars, away from prying eyes and cameras, before being ushered away to quarantine.

The tournament has been delayed two weeks to February 8 after the Victorian government and tennis officials struck a deal over quarantine arrangements.

All players and staff arriving in Victoria must quarantine at one of three Australian Open-dedicated hotels for two weeks.

But each player and one support person - such as a coach or physiotherapist - are permitted to leave their hotel rooms for up to five hours for training and treatment. They will be tested daily.

Those in the "training bubble" are able to do so from the second day of their quarantine stint, providing they return negative virus test results.

If a player or staff test positive, they will be transferred to a medi-hotel.

© AAP 2021

Photo: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (AAP Image/James Ross)