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News & Analysis

Victoria is easing lockdown restrictions – amid hopes to open up more ahead of November 1

- October 18, 2020 5 MIN READ
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews
Melburnians will be able to roam up to 25km from their home from midnight tonight, with outdoor real estate auctions returning, as well as tennis courts, golf courses and skateparks reopening under a softening of Victoria’s lockdown restrictions announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday.

The “third step” to reopen retail, hospitality, gyms, and personal care services is slated for November 1, but after five days of single digit case numbers – Victoria had two new cases in the last 24 hours, with no deaths – the Premier hinted that restrictions could be lifted sooner if the figures remain low.

“If we continue to track well on the most important indicators – case averages, mystery cases, test numbers and the number of days people wait before they get tested – we may be in a position to move sooner,” Andrews said.

“My commitment to Melburnians: we’ll review this data each and every day this week and when we get to next weekend, if we can move any earlier and do it safely, we will.”

From midnight tonight, October 18, the 5km limit for exercise and shopping will be extended to 25km. The two-hour time exercise and socialising limit will also vanish with no limit on the amount of time Victorians can spend outside their homes.

Andrews said the story behind how the infections will be a more important focus than the number of cases.

The rolling 14-day average for metropolitan Melbourne now sits at 7.5, while regional Victoria’s average is just 0.5, with just 7 active cases outside of Melbourne. There are 10 cases in aged care, 11 among healthcare workers.

“Victorians have done an amazing job over recent weeks and months,” he said.

“What it means is that as so many cities across the world head into what is going to be a deadly winter, we in Melbourne and across Victoria are well-placed to have a COVIDSafe summer and a COVID normal 2021.”

Comparing Victoria to the UK, Andrews said that back at the peak of the pandemic in August, the state recorded 725 daily cases, while at the same time, the UK recorded 891.

“Today, as Victoria records two new cases, the UK hit 16,171. And as we continue easing our restrictions – they are being forced to increase theirs,” he said.

“We are seeing states and cities, not so different from our own, overwhelmed by their second wave.”

The “2nd step” changes for metro Melbourne include:

  • The 5km limit for exercise, socialising and shopping will be extended to 25km, with no time limit on being outdoors.
  • Groups of up to 10 people from two households can gather in outdoor public places.
  • Outdoor sports such as tennis courts, golf courses and skateparks can reopen – club houses and other facilities will not be open
  • 30 swimmers are allowed at outdoor pools
  • All allied health professionals currently operating will be able to resume routine face-to-face care.
  • Indoor pools can be used for one-on-one hydrotherapy with a health professional
  • Outdoor real estate auctions can be held for up to 10 people, plus required staff.
  • Commercial real estate inspections can be held
  • Hairdressers can open, with safety protocols .
  • Tradies undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work can get back to work, along with mobile pet groomers and photographers.
  • That mean up to five tradies can work on on-essential outdoor home maintenance, repairs and renovations
  • Carwashes and pool cleaning are allowed

The Premier said that the reason there’s a two household cap is to limit the potential for any spread of the virus.

The changes for regional Victoria include:

  • Regional libraries and toy libraries can open to a maximum of 20 people indoors.
  • Outdoor religious gatherings increase to up to 20 people – and 50 from 1 November.
  • Regional hospitality businesses can have up to 40 customers indoors and up to 70 outdoors
  • Two people plus dependants can visit your home and the bubble will end
  • Indoor pools will open for children 18 and under for up to 20 swimmers.
  • One-on-one hydrotherapy with health professionals can occur
  • Households can visit a care facility simultaneously rather than the one person cap

Meanwhile, NSW recorded five new cases in the previous 24 hours, but only one of those was locally transmitted with 4 cases occurring in people from overseas currently in quarantine.

3rd Step roadmap continues

Under the November 1 “Third Step” changes, Premier Andrews said Victoria will move from “stay home” to “stay safe” – with no restrictions on the reasons to leave home in a fortnight.

“Under this step, all remaining retail will open. Restaurants, cafes and pubs will open. And personal and beauty services will be able to offer treatments to clients – as long as a face mask can be worn,” he said.

“These businesses will be able to have staff onsite for a ‘dark opening’ from 28 October, giving them time to prepare to open their doors to the public. We’ll also be able to go a bit further on home visits too – allowing households to have two people and their dependents visit their home once per day.

“The other aspects of our roadmap – from accommodation to outdoor sport – will also be introduced.”

Andrews said that Melburnians heading to regional Victoria remains “off the cards” for now.

“As we’ve seen this week, this virus is wildly infectious – and we all need to help protect the hard-won gains of our regional communities,” he said.

However, people with a regional property they need to prepare for fire and flood season will be able to travel there to prepare it for natural disasters, but they will need to get a permit for the visit.

“If you have a property in regional Victoria, and you want to travel to that property and you are in metropolitan Melbourne, to make it ready for either flood or fire, the usual activity that goes on in October/November every year, there will be a process in consultation with your local council from Wednesday next week to go and do those important works,” Andrews said.

“This is not an invitation to go and have a couple of days in regional Victoria and essentially move into regional Victoria without due reason. It is where you have a fire prevention notice, that letter of support from your council will also be with instructions from Victoria Police and the Chief Health Officer that the restrictions that apply and the rules that apply in Melbourne will travel with you when you go to your fire-prone second property.

Grand final warning

With the Geelong Cats and Richmond Tigers, playing in the AFL grand final at Brisbane’s Gabba next week – meaning Victorians are effectively banned from Queensland because its border is closed to the state –  Premier Andrews said people can’t gather together at their homes celebrate the game.

“You cannot have friends over into your home. You cannot pretend that it is over because we all desperately want it to be,” he said.

“It is not worth risking all that we have done, all that we have built, all that we can do in just a few days’ time by having gatherings that are unsafe… no barbecue with friends on that day or any day is worth giving everything we have built back and making sure that it counts for nothing.”

 

Business calls for sooner reopenings

Andrews said he understood that the changes announced today won’t be enough.

“They’ll want more – and they’ll want it sooner,” he said.

“None of us ever want to do this again. We have come too far – sacrificed too much – to give up now. We are so close. These are the safe, steady steps that will see us out of this.”

But Chrissie Maus, General Manager of the Chapel Street Precinct, said the wait to November to reopen as “an unjust joke” saying she’d rather keep the 5km limit and see shops opened.

“This week the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated they no longer support widespread city lockdowns. WHO understands we must now live with the virus until a vaccine is ready, Daniel Andrews does not,” she said.

“It seems the rest of the country is evolving in their policies but Dan continues on his draconian parade. We must learn to live with the virus and open our businesses up now! The mental health impact on our business owners and staff is now doing more damage than some realise.”

Chapel Street Precinct chairperson Justin O’Donnell said it was unfair that NSW was open for business with higher daily numbers of cases, while Victoria businesses remain closed.

“Our businesses should not be forced to suffer one more day of forced closures because of poor contact tracing measures,” he said.

A full list of the changes under Victoria’s Second Step easing of restrictions is available here.