'Scars for years': PM slams lockdown as Melbourne's restaurants reopen

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read

As Melbourne's arduous 15-week Covid-19 lockdown came to an end overnight, with businesses reopening, the PM slammed the state’s handling of the second wave saying Victorians would carry its “scars for years to come”.

Restaurants, cafes, pubs and retail stores could throw open their doors from 11.59pm on Tuesday, with some wasting no time getting back to business.

The reopening came after politicians from both sides of politics praised Victoria’s success at getting on top of the second wave during parliamentary Question Time on Tuesday.

However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also fired up over failures in Victoria's response.

"The pain, the cost, the loss of Victorian people - it never should have come to this," he said.

Owner of Angus & Bon steakhouse Liam Hanley opens the restaurant in Melbourne.
Owner of Angus & Bon New York steakhouse Liam Hanley (centre) officially opens the restaurant in Melbourne. Source: AAP

He said his fellow Victorians had been "magnificent" and the government would continue to support them as the pandemic continued.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed his treasurer, pointing to Victoria's quarantine failures and problems with contact tracing.

"There are so many Victorians who will carry the scars of this lockdown for years to come."

Victorian-based Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said there is a "renewed sense of confidence, of hope and optimism" ahead of further lifting of restrictions in coming weeks.

While mistakes had been made, and were being addressed, the health response had been much better than other nations, he said.

Restaurants open from midnight

Angus & Bon in Melbourne's southeast was one of the first restaurants to welcome back customers, serving patrons at the stroke of midnight.

The New York-style steakhouse in Prahran and other metropolitan hospitality venues can host up to 50 people outdoors and 20 indoors, subject to density limits.

Daniel Andrews speaking at a press conference.
Daniel Andrews eased restrictions on Monday after delaying a reopening of Melbourne's hospitality 24 hours earlier. Source: AAP

It came as Premier Daniel Andrews outlined new rules for home visits which were curtailed throughout Victoria's devastating second wave, making it difficult for people to see family and friends.

Two adults from one household can now visit another home accompanied by any dependants. The visits are restricted to within the 25km travel limit and to one per day.

Home gathering restrictions will remain in place beyond November 8, when the travel limit and the "ring of steel" separating the city from regional Victoria are lifted.

Masks to be worn inside gyms

Hours before Tuesday's rules rollback, the Victorian government also clarified advice on home businesses and workers, masks and Halloween.

Masks should be worn inside gyms for most activities apart from running on a treadmill, with the premier earlier saying they will remain mandatory outdoors across the state for the rest of the year and possibly into 2021.

Home businesses such as hairdressers will be able to reopen if they have a "discrete retail area", while cleaners and maintenance workers may attend homes provided they wear a mask.

Halloween trick-or-treating will be permitted in Melbourne and regional Victoria this Saturday as long as it's "contactless", with people unable to enter properties, including front yards, to door knock.

Victoria recorded a second consecutive day of no new coronavirus cases or deaths on Tuesday - the first time since March 5 and 6.

It leaves the state's virus death toll at 817 and the national figure at 905.

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