Here’s what you can and can’t do under regional Victoria’s new Stage 3 restrictions

Here’s what you can and can’t do under regional Victoria’s new Stage 3 restrictions

While many of the rules for regional Victoria will be the same as the stage three lockdown that was imposed back in March, there are some differences too.

After Victoria recorded another 671 cases of coronavirus on Sunday and seven more deaths, bringing the total to 11,557 infections and 123 deaths, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced new set of restrictions across the state alongside the news that we would enter a State of Disaster, the same provision that was used over the summer in light of the Australian bushfires.

Brought into effect at 6pm last night, the ‘State of Disaster’ legislation gives police and emergency services much broader powers to enforce new coronavirus restrictions, including the Melbourne-wide curfew every night. It also gives authorities the ability to suspend Acts of Parliament and take possession of properties.

As for the restrictions, Metropolitan Melbourne entered stage four restrictions from 6pm on Sunday 2 August (enforcing a 8pm – 5am curfew by police and soldiers across Melbourne) and from 11:59pm on Wednesday, regional Victoria will return to Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions.

These stage three restrictions will be in effect across all of regional Victoria, and the restrictions for Mitchell shire, which was already under stage three, will remain the same.

While many of the rules for regional Victoria will be the same as the stage three lockdown that was imposed back in March, there are some differences too.

Here are some of the main things you need to know about the stage three restrictions in regional Victoria:

When does the lockdown start?
The stage three restrictions covering regional Victoria come into effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday 5 August and will apply until at least 13 September.

When can I leave my house?
As during the previous stage three lockdown, the four reasons to leave the house are: shopping for necessary goods or services; medical care or compassionate reasons; exercise; and work and education if necessary.

If you can work or study from home, you must and your employers must support you to work from home.

Care includes managing shared custody arrangements, using a babysitter, leaving home to care for animals housed elsewhere, visiting someone in an aged care home, and visiting someone in hospital.

You can leave your house to access medical services, including leaving your house to give blood. Access to medical services is unrestricted as well, which means you can access them anywhere in Victoria.

You cannot enter metropolitan Melbourne for exercise or recreation.

Can I have visitors or see my partner?
You cannot have visitors or go to another person’s house unless it is for the purpose of giving or receiving care. You can leave your house to visit a person if you are in an intimate personal relationship with them. So no, not to meet up with your tinder hook-up.

In terms of seeing friends in public spaces, there can be up to two people only or household members only.

Do we still need to wear a mask?
The statewide mandatory mask policy announced last week is in effect from today, Monday 3 August, requiring all residents to wear a mask or a face covering whenever they’re out of the home.

People with a medical reason are exempt from wearing a mask, as are children younger than 12. Those who have a professional reason “or if it’s just not practical, like when running” are also exempt, but those people will still be expected to carry a face covering at all times.

Residents in Victoria caught out without a face covering face a $200 fine.

You can read up on further details here.

What’s going on with schools?
The state will return to remote-learning, including Year 11 and 12 students and except for vulnerable children and children of permitted workers, from Wednesday August 5. Specialist schools, childcare and kinder will remain open for all children.

Can I still go to my favourite café for some smashed avo?
Restaurants and cafes will be open for takeaway and delivery only, but food courts will be closed.
Pubs, bars, clubs and nightclubs will be closed, only open for bottleshop access and takeaway.

What about retail and personal services?
Shopping centres, markets and other retailers will be open but subject to density rules limited by people per square metre. However, you will only be able to visit for necessary goods and services.
Beauty and personal care services will be closed (nail salons, beauty therapists) except for hairdressers.

Saunas and bathhouses will be closed.

How about real estate?
Auction houses, real estate auctions, and inspections can operate remotely, with inspections by appointment only.

And what about music and entertainment?
Entertainment and cultural venues such as music venues, theatres, areas, stadiums, galleries, museums, indoor and drive-in cinemas, zoos, outdoor amusement parks and arcades, and the casinos and gaming venues will be shut.

Brothels and strip clubs will also shut.

Libraries and community venues however can only stay open for essential public support, or to host weddings and funerals.

Can I travel anywhere?
Travel within regional Victoria is allowed ONLY for work, education if necessary (e.g. placement for a uni degree), to get necessary goods and services, or for care and compassionate purposes.

Holiday accommodation and camping will be closed to everyone except for residents, emergency accommodation and work purposes.

If you have a second place of residence, unless it’s for emergency or maintenance, shared custody, or to stay with your partner who does not live with you.

Exercise is not a valid reason to travel.

What about funerals and weddings?
Weddings can host up to five people (the couple, witnesses and the celebrant), while funerals can host up to 10 people, plus those conducting the funeral. These ceremonies can not be held at your home.

Attending these ceremonies is a permitted reason to leave home, and to enter metropolitan Melbourne.

Religious ceremonies and private worship must be broadcast only.

What’s the go with exercise? Will gyms shut?
Exercise is a permitted reason to leave your house. You can exercise with members of your household or one other person. You can also hire a personal trainer.

Swimming pools, playgrounds, play centres, and gyms will be shut, and community sport, indoor sport and recreation will also stop.

Outdoor sports like fishing, golf, surfing, tennis and boating can continue with one other person or household members, provided 1.5 metre social distancing can be maintained.

Support for affected businesses
For those businesses that suffer significant losses or need to close as a result of the current restrictions, the government will provide support through their expanded Business Support Fund.

Businesses in regional Victoria can apply for a $5,000 grant.

Feeling unwell? Get tested.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, you should get tested. Find out where you can get tested here.

You can protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by practising good hygiene; maintaining physical distancing (keep at least 1.5 metres away from others); staying home if you’re feeling unwell; getting tested if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, and staying home until you get the result back; downloading the COVIDSafe app; and following the current restrictions in place.

Look after your mental health
This second round of lockdown is going to be a tough time for a lot of people. Remember, there is always someone you can talk to. If you or anyone you know needs help, contact:

Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890

For more information, visit Department of Health and Human Services website, or the Australian Government Department of Health website.