It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has today announced regional Victoria will move to step three of the roadmap, where the limits on reasons for leaving the home are removed thus ending lockdown across regional Victoria.
In the initial announcement of Victoria’s roadmap to COVID normal announced earlier this month, Andrews revealed that restrictions in regional Victoria would be eased when it records a 14-day daily case average below five, and zero cases with an unknown source for 14 days.
Today, the state recorded a 3.6 14-day average for regional Victoria, allowing the move to step three of the roadmap, having only moved to step two earlier this week.
“Regional Victoria will be opening up in just the next 24 hours or so. It is a massive thing. It is a very positive thing. It is something we should all be very pleased and proud of the job that regional Victorians have done,” Andrews revealed in a press conference.
“This will be welcomed, I’m sure, and there’s no greater evidence to the people of Melbourne that these strategies, getting numbers low, is possible, and it is essential. You have no chance of keeping numbers low once you open up if you don’t first get them low via the restrictions and the rules we have in place. This is a credit to everyone in regional Victoria. I am proud of you. I am grateful to you.
#COVID19VicData: Yesterday there were 42 new cases reported and 0 lives lost. Our thoughts are with all affected. The 14 day rolling average & number of cases with unknown source are down from yesterday as we move toward COVID Normal.
Info: https://t.co/eTputEZdhs #COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/8HC6ZuhECE
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) September 14, 2020
At this Step, there will be no restrictions on the reasons for leaving home or distances travelled, although you won’t be able to travel into areas with higher restrictions, like metro Melbourne.
The main focus will be activities outdoors, however there will be a limitation of public gatherings of up to 10 people. Infants under 12 months are not included in the calculation of that 10.
A household bubble will also be introduced to allow for more social visits within the home, but this only allows up to five people from one other household, taking on the same rules and regulations as the single social bubble previously announced.
All retail can reopen – including hairdressers and beauty salons where masks can be worn at all times.
School will be a staggered start over the first couple of weeks of term 4. And we will have more to say about the exact age groups, year levels, that will be coming back over those first two weeks of term 4. But that will be essentially all classes, all schools across regional Victoria will have as close to a normal term 4 as we can possibly deliver.
Gathering limits will increase and most workplaces will reopen.
For real estate services, outdoor auctions will be permitted with a limit of 10 people.
All community sport will return for children, non-contact sport will be permitted for adults.
Gathering limits for weddings will increase to 10 people, and for funerals to 20 mourners.
Outdoor religious gatherings will increase to up to 10 people, plus one faith leader.
Tourist accommodation will open for regional Victorians in regional Victoria, for them to travel and holiday within regional Victoria.
Every business, every single business across regional Victoria, will be required to have a Covid-safe plan, and those plans will be enforced from 28 September.
As for hospitality, this will be predominantly outdoor – that is for cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs, subject to gathering limits and density quotients. Only table service will be allowed and there will be a 2-hour limit on bookings. For indoor service venues, they can open with a cap of 10 seated patrons per space (YAY), subject to a one to four square metre density rule. There will also be a maximum of two such spaces. So, two spaces inside, a maximum of 10 each. So, for larger venues, that would be 20 people inside.
“For outdoor service, more customers can be seated. There are different arrangements there,” Andrews continued.
“But essentially outdoor service venues, there will be a cap of 50 seated patrons per space, subject to density requirements at one per two square metres. Group limits of 10 apply as well. The key point there is that tables will need to be 1.5m apart. So, for many venues, larger venues, they will be able to have up to 70 people seated at any one time.”
There will be advice, assistance, guidelines, very detailed conversations over the next 24 hours with various peak bodies.
“This is a great day for regional Victoria. I am proud of regional Victorians. I am grateful to regional Victorians,” Andrews said.
“This is a day of hope and optimism. This strategy is working. It has worked in regional Victoria.”
Statement on regional Victoria reaching the Third Step. pic.twitter.com/VNMnU3Y7zD
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) September 15, 2020
The last step can be moved to subject to after 23 November when there are no new cases for 14 days across Victoria, and that will mean no restrictions on leaving home, public gatherings of up to 50 people outdoors, up to 20 visitors at home, schools open for onsite learning with safety measures, hospitality open for seated service only, all retail open and galleries, museums and other entertainment venues open with some restrictions.
Unfortunately for our compadres in Melbourne, they’re not quite on the same timeline and us in regional Victoria and their restrictions will remain unchanged for the time being.
Just in terms of movement from Melbourne to regional Victoria, those reasons have not changed. You cannot be travelling to regional Victoria unless you absolutely need to.
You can view the Regional Victoria’s roadmap here.