48 hours ’til freedom: Victorians trapped in their home for 14 weeks will finally be let free as coronavirus restrictions ease on Sunday – here’s everything you need to know about what will change
- Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions will ease to a similar level as NSW on Sunday
- Melbourne’s second lockdown began in July, trapping residents for 14 weeks
- The 5km travel limit is set to increase to 20km, according to the deputy CHO
- Limits on outdoor gatherings could increase from five to 10 in Melbourne
- Increased visitors at home and a phased reopening of hospitality is possible
- Primary and secondary students have already begun to return to onsite learning
- Working from home and remote learning will likely continue for tertiary students
- Mandatory masks and bans on non-essential services are likely to persist
Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions are expected to be eased this Sunday after 14 weeks of lockdown.
Residents of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire have been trapped at home since the second lockdown began on July 9.
Meanwhile, people in regional Victoria are already on the third step of easing restrictions but still have to wear masks, an outdoor and hospitality gathering limit of 10 and are only allowed five people from one other household in their home.
While some restrictions are likely to be eased on Sunday, others are expected to persist well into October and November.
Here Daily Mail looks at whether or not the current restrictions will be lifted this weekend.
Melburnians sunbake on grassland next to St Kilda Beach. People are only allowed to travel 5km from their homes but this could potentially be increased to 20km on Sunday
The 5km travel limit
People in metropolitan Melbourne currently cannot travel more than 5km from their home for shopping and exercise – a restriction that has been in place since August 2.
Melburnians are only allowed to travel more than 5km for permitted work, medical care, primary and secondary education, childcare and care or compassionate reasons.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said the DHHS is considering increasing the limit to 20km during Wednesday’s press conference.
Regional Victorians have no restrictions on leaving home so this rule does not apply to them.
Outdoor public gatherings
There is a limit of five people from a maximum of two households for outdoor public gatherings in Melbourne.
Meanwhile in regional Victoria, 10 people are allowed to meet outdoors.
Since regional Victoria has already moved to allowing 10 people, it’s likely that Melbourne could follow suit on Sunday.
The 14-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria is very low at 0.6, so it is likely outdoor gathering limits will again be increased, possibly to allow 20.
Mask-wearing Melburnians shop in the CBD while a delivery rider collects an order in the background. Residents are limited to takeaway and delivery options from cafés, restaurants and bars but a phased return to dining is on the cards
Melbourne is considered the foodie capital of Australia but its residents are currently limited to takeaway and delivery options from cafés, restaurants and bars.
Combined with the travel limit, Melburnians can only travel 5km to get a takeaway although delivery workers can bring food from further.
Hospitality venues in regional Victoria are already open with a limit of 10 people per group booking and requirements that tables must be 1.5 metres apart and that outdoor dining is prioritised over indoor dining.
It is possible that Melbourne will follow in regional Victoria’s footsteps and allow bookings of 10 people, similar to outdoor public gatherings.
Bars, pubs and nightclubs are likely to remain closed if Victoria follows the NSW method of steadily reopening hospitality venues.
Visitors at home
People in both Melbourne and regional Victoria can form a ‘household bubble’ with one other household and have five guests over from said household.
There are multiple possibilities for how Victoria could ease restrictions in this regard.
One possibility is the five-person limit could remain but the two-household bubble could be removed, allowing for multiple households to visit each other.
Secondly, the two-household bubble could remain but the limit could increase or third, both the bubble and the limit could change in some way.
Education and working from home
Melburnians must work from home unless they have ‘permitted work’ that allows them to leave their house, which means employment in essential services.
Regional Victorians must also work from home if they can. It is unlikely that this will change in the near future.
Similarly, TAFE and university students are required to study from home unless they need to be onsite for hands-on, skills-based learning, in both Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Currently in Melbourne, primary school, year 7, year 11 and 12, VCE, VCAL, VET or International Baccalaureate students are going through a staggered return to on-site learning, which began on October 12.
Years 8 to 10 will return to on-site learning on October 26.
Regional Victoria is slightly ahead of Melbourne in returning to normal primary and secondary education.
This week, all students from kindergarten to Year 12 have returned to on-site learning, although the exact date varied from school to school.
Healthcare workers walk out of the Somerset Hotel in Melbourne. Restrictions on accomodation and outdoor entertainment venues will also likely remain in place
Restrictions that will likely stay the same
While some restrictions are likely to be eased, others are poised to remain in place for the forseable future.
The mandatory wearing of masks in Melbourne and regional Victoria shows no signs of being lifted.
Bans on retail, real estate auctions and contact and non-contact sport for both adults and minors may remain in place, although children’s sport will likely resume earlier.
Restrictions on accomodation and outdoor entertainment venues will also likely remain in place.
It is difficult to predict whether limits of 10 people at weddings and outdoor religious gatherings and the 20-people funeral limit will be increased.
In NSW, weddings are capped at 150 guests while funerals are limited to 100 people.
A man wearing a face mask crosses the tram tracks on Bourke Street in the Melbourne CBD. The mandatory wearing of masks in Melbourne and regional Victoria shows no signs of being lifted
Victoria recorded just two new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths from Thursday to Friday.
The 14-day rolling average in metropolitan Melbourne has dropped to 8.9 while the two-week average in regional Victoria is 0.6.
There are now 157 active cases in the state – a figure that was last recorded on June 7. Of the active cases, 17 are mystery cases that are not traceable.
The Garden State is catching up with NSW, which recorded just one case overnight and has 45 active cases.
According to the current roadmap, Melbourne will move to the third step of restrictions when the daily average number of cases in the last 14 days is less than 5 statewide and there are less than 5 cases with unknown sources in the last 2 weeks.
Regional Victoria also has to wait for this threshold to move to the final step towards ‘COVID normal’.
Since the current numbers do not line up with the targets, it is likely that Victoria will adjust the roadmap on Sunday.