By Nicholas McElroy

The Victorian Premier is speaking at 9:00am AEDT

Premier Daniel Andrews, Mental Health Minister James Merlino and the Acting Minister for Emergency Services Danny Pearson will hold a press conference at 9:00am. 

It’s not expected to be COVID-19-specific, but the team in Victoria will keep an eye out for any coronavirus updates.

By Nicholas McElroy

Joe Biden slams moves by Texas Governor to rollback COVID-19 restrictions as ‘a big mistake’

US President Joe Biden said Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s most sweeping rollback of coronavirus restrictions of any US state is “a big mistake” that amounted to “Neanderthal thinking.”

Mr Biden was speaking to reporters at the White House during an unrelated photo opportunity and was asked what message he had for Texas, as well as for Mississippi which also removed its state mask mandate. 

Mr Abbott’s executive order to life a mask mandate and allowing most businesses to reopen at full capacity next week.

It comes as many US states and major cities seeing a sharp decline in coronavirus infections.

The decision puts Texas in conflict with Mr Biden, who has urged Americans to keep taking COVID-19 precautions, including wearing masks, until vaccinations have fully tamped down the virus.

The Texas governor said he was able to lift the restrictions because Texas, the third most-populous US state, had administered nearly 5.7 million vaccine shots to its 29 million residents. 

“I think it’s a big mistake,” Mr Biden said.

“Look, I hope everybody has realised by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we were able to get vaccines in people’s arms.

“We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American, to get every adult American, to get a shot. 

“And the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that ‘in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it’. 

Mr Biden said restrictions are still important and thinks of the thousands of Americans lost to COVID-19.

“It still matters. I carry a card with me, I don’t have it, I put it on my desk… As of yesterday, we had lost five hundred eleven thousand eight hundred seventy four Americans,” he said.

“We’re going to lose thousands more. This will not occur, we will not have everybody vaccinated till sometime in the summer. We have the vaccine to do it. But getting a shot in someone’s arm and getting the second shot is going to take time. 

“And it’s critical – critical, critical, critical – that they follow the science. Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distanced. I know you all know that. I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it.”

By Nicholas McElroy

Good morning and welcome to the ABC News coronavirus live blog

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