Hope on the horizon: Some of Melbourne’s hated Stage Four restrictions are likely to be revised or scrapped next week even though the city is on course to miss coronavirus target
- Premier Dan Andrews has hinted that some restrictions will be eased next week
- People may be allowed to gather outside in groups and 5km rule could be axed
- Restrictions could be eased despite the city missing a key coronavirus target
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has hinted that some of the hated Stage Four lockdown restrictions could be scrapped or revised next week.
Greater freedoms are likely to be brought forward even though Victoria is unlikely to meet its coronavirus target.
Premier Daniel Andrews has overhauled his roadmap to recovery, saying some restrictions would ease ‘significantly’.
‘I don’t think we’re able to get as far and as fast as we hoped but there will be significant changes,’ he told reporters on Sunday.
‘I don’t want to do a big laundry list … but everything is on the table.
Melbourne’s tough Stage Four restrictions are expected to ease next Sunday (pictured: Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market on Saturday)
Melbourne’s all-important rolling 14-day case average dropped to 9.3 on Sunday according to coronavirus statistics website covid19data.com.au
For restrictions to ease to Step Three under the original road map to recovery, Melbourne’s 14-day average had to fall below five, with less than five mystery cases for a fortnight.
Melbourne’s all-important rolling 14-day case average dropped to 9.3 on Sunday while regional Victoria’s is at 0.4.
It was hoped that Victoria would reach its targets ahead of schedule and the expected Step Three date was brought forward from October 26 to October 19.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that there would be ‘significant’ changes next week as he addressed reporters on Sunday
RESTRICTIONS LIKELY TO BE EASED
● Public gatherings may be expanded from five people from two households to up to ten people.
● Changes to outdoor activities will be announced next Sunday, with hopes for sports such as golf or tennis
● The 5km restriction for Melbourne residents may be removed
However, stubborn case numbers have proved to be difficult to quash and experts have warned that Victoria is unlikely to reach its target.
Premier Andrews said he was announcing a series of ‘mini-steps’ to ease the restrictions faster, suggesting people in Melbourne would gain more freedom of movement from October 19.
However he did not provide further details.
‘A whole lot of outdoor activity is on the table and we will also spend quite a bit of time thinking about what’s a safe group size for people outside to be able to join each other to be part of the things we crave the most,’ he said on Sunday.
‘That’s the connections that we’ve been deprived of.’
Under current rules, people are only able to gather in maximum groups of five, from two households.
The easing will, however, fall short of the widespread changes that many in Melbourne had hoped for after suffering tough Stage Four lockdown since August 2.
‘They will allow us to move more freely. They will allow us to connect more easily with those that we love the most,’ he said.
Mr Andrews would not reveal whether restaurants and cafes would be open soon for outdoor dining.
However he did say that it was ‘front of mind’ that outdoor dining was far less risky than indoor dining.
Victoria recorded 12 new cases on Sunday of which two are from known outbreaks and 10 are under investigation.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he thought the targets might still be met.
‘We can’t discount that it might be extraordinarily difficult to drive cases down, but I think it’s possible,’ he said.
Victoria’s Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien told the Herald Sun that the change in policy meant the Andrews Government had ‘got it wrong’.
‘Those targets were always unachievable,’ he said.
‘Victoria shouldn’t be pursuing an elimination strategy, we should be pursuing a suppression strategy.’
The 5km rule might be eased next Sunday giving more freedoms to residents (pictured residents on Melbourne’s St Kilda’s promenade on Saturday)
Victoria has announced that contacts of known coronavirus cases must now be tested before leaving quarantine or else face another 10 days in isolation.
Close contacts were already required to quarantine for two weeks however the new rules mean they will be kept for 10 more days if they refuse a Day 11 test.
A fine of nearly $10,000 will be imposed on regional Victorian businesses who do not take ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure customers are not from Melbourne.
Under Melbourne’s current restrictions, permitted workers are allowed to leave the city but must follow Melbourne restrictions while in regional Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews extended Victoria’s State of Emergency and State of Disaster by four weeks on Sunday and agreed to hand over missing phone records to the hotel quarantine inquiry.
The Premier announced the emergency measures – which give authorities greater powers during the pandemic – would be extended until November 8 after the state recorded 12 new coronavirus cases and one death overnight.
MELBOURNE’S ROADMAP OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO AND WHEN:
Step one: Came into effect on September 14
Step two: Came into effect on September 28
Step three: When there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The original aim was for October 26, brought forward to October 19 after the 14-day average of new cases fell below initial expectations, but again put on hold after new case numbers plateaued.
This has now been revamped to be a series of ‘mini-steps’ and more gradual easings as the numbers proved difficult to shift.
Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23
COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal.
FREEDOMS YOU GET AT EACH STEP OF EASING
Step one – came into effect September 14
– Curfew has been eased to 9pm-5am
– People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)
– Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours
– Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’
– Childcare and early educators to remain closed
– Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption
– Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry
– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only
– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect
– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping
Step two – came into effect September 28
– Melbourne’s curfew lifted
– Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households
– Childcare and early educators can re-open
– Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4
– There will be an increase to permitted workplaces
Step three – originally expected October 26, brought forward to October 19
– There are no restrictions on leaving home
– Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors
– A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another
– Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite
– Work from home is encouraged
– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor
– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed
– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment
– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked
Step four – expected in November, dependent on new case numbers:
– Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors
– Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time
– All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place
– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue
– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants
Step five – COVID normal:
– Public gatherings have no restriction
– There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes
– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers
– Schools to reopen as normal
– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records