Regional Victoria will emerge from lockdown at 11:59pm Thursday night

Regional Victoria will emerge from lockdown at 11:59pm Thursday night

Great news for regional Vic - excluding Greater Shepparton

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has delivered some good news to regional Victoria, announcing restrictions in Regional Victoria will ease at 11:59pm Thursday night, September 9. Unfortunately for our friends in Melbourne and the hard-hit Shepparton region, there will be no changes to their current restrictions.

The announcement comes as the state records 221 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases. The cases were among 42,429 test results processed on Tuesday, when 36,716 vaccine doses were delivered at state-run sites.

There are more than 950 venues listed as exposure sites across the state, including the waiting room of the emergency department of the Alfred Hospital.

The key takeaways

  • Regional Victoria will emerge from lockdown from midnight tomorrow night
  • Restrictions currently remain for Melbourne and Shepparton
  • People will only be able to travel to Melbourne for a permitted reason and must follow Melbourne restrictions

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Following advice from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, from midnight tomorrow night, the lockdown will lift in regional Victoria.

The five reasons to leave home will be removed and there will be no limit on the distance regional Victorians can travel from home, but people will only be able to travel to Melbourne for a permitted reason and must follow Melbourne restrictions.

“In terms of regional Victoria, there are far less cases in regional Victoria than there are in Melbourne. Outbreaks have been brought under control. That’s a testament to the great work of our contact-tracers, our public health teams, but also the great work of regional Victorians over these recent weeks,” Andrews said.

“That’s why today with the exception of Greater Shepparton, we can announce from 11:59pm tomorrow night, the lockdown will end in regional Victoria with the exception of Greater Shepparton, those five reasons to leave your home will no longer apply.

“Schools will reopen for prep, Grade 1, grade 2, year 11 studying year 12 subjects for those subjects and our year 12s. Remote learning for other levels.

“On Shepparton, we would hope to have Shepparton catch up to the rest of regional Victoria sometime next week and we’ll make those announcements as soon as we have tidied up the last bits of the outbreak there.”

Businesses will be able to reopen, there will be limits, though.

“As I said, and I have said a number of times, it’s not a snapback, it’s not Freedom Day, it’s not 100% of capacity down at the pub. It can’t be. If it is, then we will simply see numbers spread and then we’ll have to close large parts of regional Victoria down again and perhaps even all of regional Victoria. We don’t want that.

“We want to do this in a cautious way, but in a positive way in as optimistic way as possible.”

Importantly, private gatherings in the home are still not permitted and face masks will also still be mandatory indoors and outdoors.

The Authorised Worker list will no longer apply in the regions, meaning most businesses and venues can reopen with capacity and density limits. Regional Victorians will return to the rule ‘if you can work from home, you should work from home’ but office workers will be able to return up to 25 per cent or up to 10 people, whichever is greater.

Further changes include:

    • Funerals will be permitted for up to 20 people and weddings will be permitted for up to 10 people, plus those required to conduct the service
    • Restaurants and cafes can reopen for seated service with patron caps
    • Retail, hairdressing, entertainment venues and community facilities will also open in line with density limits and patron caps.
    • Masks will continue to be required indoors and outdoors, apart from private residences, unless an exception applies.
    • Public gatherings: Permitted for up to 10 people
    • If you can work from home, you should work from home. Office work – 25 per cent return or up to 10 people if total workplace is 40 or less, density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm applies
    • Religious gatherings and ceremonies: Permitted with up to 20 persons per venue (and those workers necessary to conduct the ceremony
    • Weddings (indoor and outdoor): Permitted with no more than 10 people (and those workers necessary to conduct the wedding). Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap
    • Outdoor personal training: Allowed with up to 10 people and a trainer
    • Community sport: Permitted outdoor training only with the minimum number required to train. Spectators are prohibited except one parent permitted to supervise children
    • Community recreation facilities: Outdoors only with up to 20 people per facility.
    • Indoor fixed seated entertainment: Open with maximum of 20 people per space
    • Outdoor fixed seated entertainment: Open with up to 25 percent capacity with maximum of 300 people per space, whichever is lesser
    • Drive-in cinemas open (for households, intimate partner and bubble buddy)
    • Amusement parks: Outdoor spaces align with outdoor non-seated – 25 per cent capacity with maximum 300 per space, whichever is lesser
    • Accommodation open to people who live in regional area. Bookings permitted for single households, intimate partners or single bubbles

While restrictions remain in metropolitan Melbourne, businesses that are open in regional Victoria – such as restaurants or beauty services – must check the IDs of everyone they serve.

Given the clearly increasing risk coming from Melbourne, Victoria Police will significantly expand their operation along the metropolitan border to protect regional Victoria. Police will also be out in force in regional areas, conducting spot checks to ensure people from metropolitan Melbourne are not in the regionals are not unless for authorised reasons. The fine for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions is $5,452.

The Victorian premier has reassured regional communities that if Covid-19 outbreaks do pop up, restrictions will be reintroduced on a much more localised level. Essentially, no more statewide lockdowns, unless things get really dire.

“If we do finish up with cases bobbing up in regional Victoria in coming weeks, I just want to indicate to everybody across regional Victoria that not only is it our – not only is it our preference but it will be our practice to have a focused and targeted series of measures.

“As you can see, Shepparton has been treated differently because there are case numbers there.

“If there were an outbreak in another part of regional Victoria then we would look to try to target and localise our public health measures as much as we can.”

All regional Victorians need to continue with their COVIDSafe behaviours – most importantly to get tested immediately if they have any symptoms at all and get vaccinated if it’s their turn.

You can view the premier’s announcement here.