Victoria reunited as travel limits lifted

Marty Silk
·3-min read

Victoria will be reunited as one state with the travel restrictions on Melburnians lifted as active COVID-19 cases continue to ebb.

Premier Daniel Andrews will scrap a 25km travel limit on city residents and remove Melbourne's "ring of steel" from midnight after the state went nine days without a new COVID-19 case.

"Victoria will be once again united as one single state," he told reporters on Sunday.

"The 25km travel limit will go, the Melbourne-regional Victoria border comes down, families will be able to be together again.

"We know that so many people have missed those that they love the most, those who they need to see, been desperately keen to see, for such a long period of time."

Two visitors plus their dependents will be allowed to visit another home each day, but a 10-person limit will remain on outdoor gatherings.

The premier said hospitality venues can now also host up to 70 people outdoors and 40 people indoors subject to density limits.

He promised restaurants, bars and clubs would be able to take a "bigger step" in coming weeks.

"It can't be done open slather because whilst these numbers are good, what we've all built together is fragile, precious and fragile, and it has to be safeguarded," Mr Andrews said.

Up to 50 people outdoors and 20 people indoors can attend religious gatherings, but a 10-person limit on weddings will remain.

Aged care residents can be visited by one household per day for two hours, and partners can visit maternity wards indefinitely.

Up to 20 people will be allowed in gyms, while up to 20 people will be allowed per space in libraries, community centres, galleries, museums and cinemas.

Mr Andrews said caps on meat, poultry and seafood workers will be lifted, but anyone who is able to work from home must continue to do so.

Victorians will also have to continue wearing masks for at least another two to three weeks.

"I'm not for a moment saying that people are happy to be wearing masks, but they serve a purpose. They play a part in keeping those numbers low," he said.

"That won't be the case forever, there will be a time when we're able to change those rules."

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra welcomed the easing of restrictions but said the government needs to plan for the return of functions, events and office workers.

"Victoria needs a roadmap for the safe return of office workers to revitalise the CBD, with many businesses struggling to make ends meet," he said in a statement.

"While the Victorian Chamber welcomes the tweaks to the caps on indoor dining patrons, we really need to see our levels lifted to align with NSW by 23 November, when the interstate border opens, or we risk losing medium and large scale functions and events."

The 14-day average for daily cases in Melbourne sits at 0.4 and there are two cases with an unknown source.

Health Minister Martin Foley said an enforcement blitz on businesses posing a high risk of COVID-19 transmission had found issues at 121 of 784 premises checked on Saturday.

He said 36 infringement notices and 14 warnings had been issued with 47 matters being followed up again on Sunday.

Victoria will welcome the first international flights to Melbourne since June 30, with the resumption of flights from New Zealand from Monday.

Mr Andrews is still considering the hotel quarantine inquiry's recommendations, including that returning overseas travellers should be able to self-isolate at home.

Victoria's COVID-19 death toll is 819, and 907 people have died from the virus across Australia.