Restrictions on shopping, outdoor gatherings and exercise will ease from midnight tonight in Melbourne as the city begins the long road out of lockdown.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today confirmed details of the second step of a plan to steadily emerge from a near-total shutdown of the capital sparked by a second wave of coronavirus infections.
And Mr Andrews also announced that the next stage of the roadmap will be enacted weeks earlier than scheduled.
“On the modelling and data and analysis of all of that, we believe that we will be able to take the next step easing all the restrictions leaving your home, when there is much more freedom of movement, on October 19.”
In the interim, as of midnight tonight, outdoor public gatherings will be allowed for a single household, or a maximum of five people from no more than two households, but it must remain within five kilometres of the home.
“That is more than what we had hoped to be able to achieve,” Mr Andrews said. “It is not as much as people would want but it is very important that we take those steps safely.”
Restrictions on shopping will also ease, with a limit of one person from each household going to the shops once a day lifted.
However, the Premier stressed Melburnians employ a commonsense approach.
“I would just say, go shopping for the things you need when you need them, it doesn‘t need to be just one person any longer but that is not an invitation for an entire family group to go to the supermarket.”
Sporting and recreation facilities like tennis clubs and bowls clubs will remain closed.
However there will be some more liberties offered when it comes to outdoor exercise, including activities like hiking or fishing.
Outdoor pools will open, although there will be conditions that will be announced shortly.
Exercise must remain within five kilometres of the home and with a two-hour limit applied.
The big change to exercise though is that the five kilometre radius limit can also be applied to a person’s workplace.
Some 130,000 workers will return to various workplaces from tomorrow, which is almost 30,000 more than originally anticipated.
Sunday marks the final night of the city’s nightly curfew, which prevented people leaving their homes.
It will lift from 5am tomorrow, but authorities will introduce a new penalty of almost $5000 for any unlawful indoor or outdoor gatherings.
In terms of education, VCE students will return for assessments from October 5 in metropolitan Melbourne.
“Prep to grade six, special school students and VCE, VCAL students will return to on-site learning in the week beginning 12 October,” Mr Andrews said.
“So, in Melbourne, that’s ahead of schedule, we will be able to have all of our primary school kids back at school in the week beginning 12 October.
“I stress that it won‘t necessarily be every student in every year level on the one day, it may be staggered throughout the week, but in that week beginning 12 October, Melbourne primary schools are going back to face-to-face learning. I’m sure that will be great news for many families.”
Childcare opens for all children – no permit is required and the five kilometre limit does not apply.
In terms of health restrictions, care facilities and hospitals will allow one visitor per day for a maximum of two hours.
For patients that are under the age of 18 years, two parents or carers can visit with no time limit.
“That is a significant shift and it is a recognition that at times of great stress it is really important to be able to be as close to loved ones as is safe,” Mr Andrews said.
“At the same time, though, that is a broad rule. I think that it stands to reason that individual hospitals and in settings within hospitals, for instance, areas that are the most vulnerable, an intensive care unit, may well have bespoke or individual arrangements.”
Dental care will be allowed with all dental surgeries practices to have a COVID-safe plan, removing the restrictions on urgent care only.