Regional Victoria restrictions to ease, allowing public gatherings of up to five people

Regional Victoria restrictions to ease, allowing public gatherings of up to five people

Things are looking up.

Today Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced the Government’s plan for easing coronavirus restrictions in the state, moving from ‘stages’ to ‘steps’ in order to give Victorians a long-term plan for the path out of restriction and into COVID normal.

“These steps will be guided by dates – and the data. That means if we’re on-track to take a step forward, we can do so confidently,” Andrews revealed today.

“With clear and articulated case targets, we’re creating “trigger points” for review for our public health team – and giving Victorians even more insight into how we’re tracking.”

The Victorian government have today introduced the creation of a “bubble” for people living alone and single parents in both metro Melbourne and regional Victoria. This would allow more isolated Victorians to nominate one other person to help them through this – a friend or family member that can visit them in their home.

“I understand that isolation is a real issue for many. But I’d ask people only add someone to their bubble if they need to. After all, the more people you see, the more chance there is of coming into contact with someone who has the virus, putting us back on a path to lockdown.”

For us in Forte land, the premier has acknowledged there are lower cases in regional Victoria, and being essentially a step ahead of metropolitan Melbourne, from 11:59pm on 13 September, next Sunday in effect, public gatherings up to five people from a maximum of two households can meet in outdoor places, including the park and the beach.

Outdoor pools and playgrounds in regional Victoria will also open. And religious services can be conducted outside with a maximum of five people, plus a faith leader.

For schools and students, they will begin a staged return to onsite learning from Term Four. All VCE and VCAL students – in Melbourne and regional Victoria – will attend onsite for the General Achievement Test and other essential assessments from 5 October.

In regional Victoria, all students will return to onsite learning between 12 and 16 October and in Melbourne, VCE and VCAL students and Prep to Grade 2 will also return for onsite learning from the 12 of October.

The premier believe that regional Victoria will be able to move to the third step quite soon, which can start when the daily average number of cases in the last 14 days in Regional Victoria is less than 5
and there are less than 0 cases in Regional Victoria with an unknown source in the last 14 days.

“It will be, perhaps, a matter of weeks before regional Victoria can move to a very different range of settings compared to metropolitan Melbourne. That would mean more shops open, more people back at work, people still working from home in some instances, but relatively normal, certainly compared to the situation at metropolitan Melbourne will have to be in for a longer period of time,” the premier said today in a press conference.

“Essentially we will be able to move a step ahead of metropolitan Melbourne very, very soon. So there is no extension of the current arrangements. They will be able to move a step ahead of metropolitan Melbourne.”

Under the third step for Regional Victoria, there will be no restrictions on leaving home, encouraged to spend time with others outside where possible, Public gatherings will be up to 10 people outdoors, Visitors will be allowed at home from 1 other household (up to 5 people), Schools return to onsite learning from Term 4 with safety measures, Hospitality open for predominately outdoor seated service only and all retail open, except personal care (hairdressers open).

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.

A ‘COVID-NORMAL’ will mean no restrictions, schools open for onsite learning with safety measures, no limits on weddings or funerals but organisers encouraged to keep records of attendees, and galleries, museums and other entertainment venues open with safety measures and record-keeping. This can only happen when there are no new cases for 28 days and no active cases (state-wide) and no outbreaks of concern in other States and Territories.

The premier has however warned that Geelong is on close watch, and will be potentially treated separately if need be due to the number of cases in the region compared to the rest of regional Victoria.

“It is fair to say Geelong is on close watch and we will monitor the cases in the Geelong area as we have done for many weeks now, to ensure that, for instance, we wouldn’t want a situation where it preconditions for moving to another set of rules for all of regional Victoria were to be held back because of case numbers just in one area, namely the Geelong corridor, we may have to treat Geelong separately.

“I’m giving people fair warning of that. I’m not actually announcing that.”

You can view Regional Victoria’s roadmap here.

As for Melbourne, Andrews have confirmed that Melburnians will face another two weeks of stage 4 restrictions after September 13, however, he said there would be modifications including starting the curfew one hour later, to run from 9:00pm to 5:00am.

Public gatherings of two people, or a household, will be allowed for up to two hours a day, which Mr Andrews said could involve exercising or spending time outside, and the aforementioned social bubble will apply.

“The 5-kilometre rule will not apply but the curfew will.”

From September 28, if the daily average of new cases remains between 30 and 50, the Premier said the following changes would apply in metropolitan Melbourne:

-Public gatherings would be increased to five people from up to two households
-There would be a staged return to on-site learning for prep, grade 1 and 2, VCE and VCAL and specialist schools
-Childcare would reopen
-Outdoor personal training would be allowed with up to two people per trainer
-Outdoor pools would reopen

You can view the full details of Metro Melbourne’s roadmap here.