A number of Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions are set to ease at midnight as the state begins its pathway to recovery.
Premier Daniel Andrews outlined the roadmap for reopening last week after the state imposed strict Stage Four lockdowns on August 5.
On Sunday he told reporters he doesn’t want the state “bouncing in and out of lockdown” as Victoria recorded a further 41 cases of COVID-19.
Metropolitan Melbourne’s changes
From midnight on Sunday, curfew will be eased in Metropolitan Melbourne from 9pm until 5am.
Prior to this, it is 8pm until 5am.
Mr Andrews acknowledged it was suitable given “the warmer months” ahead.
Restrictions on public gatherings will also change. Two people or a household can meet outside for a maximum of two hours.
“Exercise is extended for two hours, split over a maximum of two sessions, but that goes obviously from one hour to two hours,” Mr Andrews said.
“And the notion of time outside, time outdoors, whilst at the moment it is just for exercise, it will also now be from midnight tonight for social interaction with one other person or members of your household.”
Metro Melbourne residents living alone or single parents with all children under 18 will be able to have one nominated visitor to their homes.
“They are small steps, absolutely appropriate, with numbers still coming down, but too high to open up,” Mr Andrews said.
Regional Victoria’s changes
Up to five people from two households can meet up outdoors with children under 12 months old not included in the cap.
Anyone living alone or single parents with children under 18 will be allowed one nominated visitor.
Retail stores in regional Victoria will also be open, albeit with restrictions on numbers to ensure social distancing. Hairdressers will open too.
Victoria's two weeks of low infection rates have prompted Mr Andrews to indicate the possibility that regional Victoria could jump two steps out of lockdown by mid-next week.
“As I've said, regional Victoria currently has a 14-day rolling average of some 4.1 cases,” the premier said.
“This has been very closely monitored and it looks likely, but again we have to wait and see the next few days' numbers, but it looks likely that in just a few days' time, regional Victoria will be able to take another step which has direct bearing in relation to pubs, restaurants, cafes.
“They may look a bit different and may be much more outdoor rather than indoor, but those businesses will be able to reopen.”
This will mean, among other things, that regional residents would very soon be able to go out for a coffee or meal.
State of emergency extended
Mr Andrews announced on Sunday the state of emergency in Victoria has been extended four weeks.
"That underpins all the different rules,” he said.
“It underpins taking those safe and steady steps."
As parts of Victoria move towards eased restrictions, some tensions are emerging, including further protest action.
Protesters showed up at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Markets and at least one person was arrested on Sunday.
Small anti-lockdown protests were staged in Melbourne on Saturday.
Police arrested 14 people and fined at least 50 for breaching health directions.
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