Melbourne has edged further along its roadmap out of coronavirus lockdown following Premier Daniel Andrews’ highly-anticipated announcement on Sunday with residents granted further social freedom from today.
Mr Andrews had initially hoped to take Step Three of city’s roadmap in its entirety, however, a stubborn tail end of the second wave meant its targets of a 14-day rolling average below five and less than five mystery cases across a two-week period became unachievable.
That meant health authorities on Sunday ultimately decided against providing businesses, including those in the hospitality industry, a lifeline from October 19, with November 2 now pencilled in for change.
However a significant drop in daily case numbers over the past five days has offered hope that date could be brought forward – a decision furious industry leaders believe should come sooner rather than later.
What social changes have been made?
The five kilometre rule for leaving your home, one of the more contentious restrictions in recent weeks, has been scrapped.
Residents can now travel up to 25km from their home.
However, the city’s ring of steel remains in place, meaning those located nearby the city’s boundary will not be able to travel into regional Victoria for exercise or recreation.
Outdoor gatherings will also increase from five people to 10 from two households.
There is now no limit on the amount of time you can leave the home for.
With Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton repeatedly warning about the threat of family transmission within the home in recent weeks, there is predictably no change to indoor gathering rules.
However from November 2, people will be allowed to host a maximum of two people plus dependents at their homes once a day.
What activities can I do outdoors?
Melburnians can now exercise in groups of up to ten people from a maximum of two households, however personal training is limited to two people plus the trainer.
Some outdoor activities can take place in outdoor sport and recreation facilities if there is no sharing of equipment, gathering restrictions are met and people are 1.5 metres apart.
Facilities such as skate parks, golf courses and tennis courts will reopen under the same rules.
Outdoor swimming pools can now accomodate up to 30 people if large enough to do so.
What workers will return to work?
More people who work outdoors will be permitted to return to work if employee groups are capped at five people.
The following professions or services have been outlined by the Department of Health and Humans Services for a return to work:
Outdoor non-essential home maintenance and repairs, including painting
Outdoor pool and spa maintenance/cleaning for private residences and other outdoor cleaning
External car washing. This must be contactless and administration offices must remain closed
Mobile pet grooming at residential properties, contactless with strict controls
Outdoor professional photography including school photos (for purposes other than currently permitted purposes, e.g. media, real estate), they must have an ABN.
Letterboxing (for purposes other than local elections).
Solar power installers
What other changes have been made?
Melburnians can now get themselves a haircut with hairdressers and barbers back open under COVIDsafe guidelines.
Real estate auctions, both residential and commercial will be permitted outdoors with a limit of 10 people, plus the minimum number of people required to conduct the auction.
Commercial real estate pre-arranged inspections with one agent and one prospective purchaser or tenant will return.
Hydrotherapy can resume between one health care professional and one client in indoor pools, with a maximum of 10 people in on pool at a time.
When can I eat out or go back to the pub?
Melbourne will take another step on November 2, with hospitality venues being able to seat 50 people outside and 20 people inside.
The date will also see the return of retail.
Mr Andrews, however, indicated the next step could be brought forward, depending on case numbers across Victoria in the next week.
“There is some optimism, confidence even, but if things continue this week as they have the last five days, we may be able to bring that forward," he said.
Business reaction to latest step
Many industry groups are not impressed with the latest announcement, who are insistent there is no reason to keep businesses from opening for any longer.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said it was an "an inexplicable and unacceptable delay".
"There is no sound reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with case numbers clearly on a downward trajectory," she said in a statement.
The Australian Industry Group's Victorian head Tim Piper said businesses and Victorians expected more.
"There is still no long-term coherent plan to rebuild a shattered Victorian economy," Mr Piper said.
Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said restrictions should have been eased further, especially with respect to small businesses.
Victoria recorded just two new coronavirus cases on Sunday - its fifth consecutive day in the single digits - and no deaths.
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