While the majority of Melburnians were overjoyed as Premier Daniel Andrews announced the lifting of some restrictions on Sunday, footy fans were still left feeling flat.
Melburnians are a little closer to ‘COVID normal’ with the freedom to travel 25km from home and enjoy unlimited time outdoors under relaxed restrictions to begin on Monday.
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Andrews announced the lifting of some virus-enforced limitations after the state recorded just two new infections and no further deaths on Sunday.
Outdoor gatherings will also increase from five people to 10 from two households, while facilities such as skate parks, golf courses and tennis courts will reopen.
Melburnians will be able to get a haircut, see an allied health professional, renovate their home, wash their car and bid at an auction, though a number of strict safety protocols will be in place.
“I have announced today what is safe but will not undermine the sacrifice, the hard work, the pain, the amazing efforts that Victorians have put in,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.
AFL fans gutted by no grand final parties
But while It might be the home of football, AFL grand final day will be a subdued affair in Melbourne if Andrews gets his way.
The Premier issued a stern warning that Melburnians can’t have others over to their house on Saturday to watch the all-Victorian decider between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba.
“I know that many people would normally spend time with family and friends to celebrate that day, whether their team is in the grand final or not,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.
“But your household and only the members of your household, that is how grand final day has to be.
“You cannot have friends over into your home. You cannot pretend that it is over because we all desperately want it to be.”
Instead, Melburnians from up to two households can gather outdoors and potentially tune in to the clash via their phones.
Regional Victorians, meanwhile, will be able to enjoy far more normal festivities under their rules.
Mr Andrews said having “unsafe” home gatherings in Melbourne wasn’t worth the risk of undoing the community’s hard work to curtail COVID-19 case numbers.
Richmond fans memorably swarmed Punt Road after its drought-breaking premiership win in 2017, climbing on the roofs of businesses and drinking in the street.
But Mr Andrews indicated Victoria Police would announce increased enforcement measures this week to ensure there's no repeat of the wild celebrations.
“I know people are very passionate about football,” he said.
“Both Richmond and Geelong supporters will be up and about this week, but it is not an ordinary grand final.”
He urged footy fans to follow the example set by Tigers and Cats players this season.
“They followed the rules. They have been in quarantine,” Mr Andrews said.
“They have had all sorts of different restrictions placed on them and we need to do the same.”
Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett was among those to criticise Andrews, suggesting his poor leadership earlier in the crisis had resulted in footy fans being dudded for the grand final.
“Premier still talking down to Victorians. We are in this situation because he and his colleagues failed,” Kennett, the chairman of Hawthorn, tweeted.
“We lost the football season and the Grand Final because he failed. Now he will not allow any celebrations.
“What a sadness for those who have a team in the GF.”
Former Carlton and Brisbane Lions player Brendan Fevola was also unhappy.
Victoria’s grand final eve public holiday will go ahead on Friday despite the traditional team parade also moving to Brisbane.
Meanwhile, Flemington Racecourse could potentially have limited numbers on course for the Melbourne Cup under eased rules from 11.59pm on November 1.
Mr Andrews said some connections would likely be allowed to attend the spring carnival’s signature event but flagged Racing Minister Martin Pakula would make further announcements.
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