From the five-kilometre travel bubble to outdoor gatherings: The COVID-19 restrictions Daniel Andrews could ease from this weekend – as he’s urged to ‘give the people of Melbourne their freedom back’
- Victoria reported seven new cases of COVID-19 for the 24 hours to Wednesday
- State’s case numbers have plunged but still above a five-cases-per-day target
- This target would trigger a move to step three in the roadmap out of lockdown
- Premier Daniel Andrews has indicated some rules could be eased on Sunday
- The federal government on Wednesday said Melbourne was no longer hotspot
Premier Daniel Andrews’ government has been considering which rules could be eased come October 19, despite the city’s failure to reach its target of a 14-day rolling average of five cases.
Victoria’s daily COVID-19 infections have reduced dramatically in recent weeks with just seven new cases announced on Wednesday.
The case numbers are now so low that Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Wednesday that Melbourne was no longer officially considered a coronavirus hotspot.
Meanwhile, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Wednesday urged Mr Andrews to ‘give the people of Victoria their freedom back this weekend’.
Melburnians (pictured at St Kilda beach) could be freed of some of the harshest coronavirus restrictions on Sunday as the city moves towards step three of its roadmap to lifting lockdown
Premier Daniel Andrews has previously said that despite the city not reaching target case numbers to completely move to step three, his government have been deciding which rules could be eased on October 19 (pictured is St Kilda beach in October)
Among the restrictions that could be eased in Melbourne from this weekend is the highly contentious five-kilometre limit.
Currently residents must stay within five kilometres of their home for exercise or shopping, but can leave for work, school or compassionate reasons.
Limits on public gatherings are also being considered. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 are likely to be allowed, while up to five people from one household could be allowed to visit another household.
It has already been confirmed that students will be allowed to return to school, with primary school and VCE students hitting the classrooms this week.
The remaining school years will return from October 26.
Cafes and restaurants could also see some midway point changes between the current rules and step three.
Under step three, venues will be allowed to have outdoor seating where patrons can eat together.
On Wednesday, Premier Andrews tempered expectations of huge changes – saying his government could not ease rules ‘as far and fast as we thought’ – but added that lockdown was not ‘indefinite’.
‘These measures come with a cost. There is a public health benefit, but there is also a cost,’ Mr Andrews said.
An empty Flinders Street Station and deserted Melbourne CBD during COVID-19 lockdown (pictured)
‘At some point, the cost of the restrictions will be greater than the increased risk and the increased challenge for our public health team to keep the virus suppressed if we open earlier than we had planned.’
Speaking on Wednesday Mr Hunt said the city had fallen under the 10-cases-per-day rolling average that defines a hotspot in the eyes of federal chief medical officers.
‘In fact today Victoria’s numbers were below NSW with regards to community transmission, the figures I have before me were, 11 cases within the community of NSW, seven for Victoria.
‘They have reached the national standard, the epidemiological standard set by the Chief Medical Officer of Australia and that gives them the chance to follow the pathway which NSW has set.’
Both Mr Hunt and Mr Frydenberg called on Mr Andrews to ease restrictions – saying that the World Health Organization had set out concerns about prolonged lockdowns.
‘Their simple way forward is the national standard of a rolling average of less than 10 cases and they are there and that will make a profound difference to people ‘s mental health.’ Mr Hunt said.
On Wednesday, Premier Andrews tempered expectations of huge changes – saying his government could not ease rules ‘as far and fast as we thought’ – though adding that lockdown was not ‘indefinite’
MELBOURNE’S ROADMAP OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO AND WHEN:
Step one: Came into effect on September 14
Step two: Came into effect on September 28
Step three: When there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The original aim was for October 26, brought forward to October 19 after the 14-day average of new cases fell below initial expectations, but again put on hold after new case numbers plateaued.
This has now been revamped to be a series of ‘mini-steps’ and more gradual easings as the numbers proved difficult to shift.
Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23
COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal.
FREEDOMS YOU GET AT EACH STEP OF EASING
Step one – came into effect September 14
– Curfew has been eased to 9pm-5am
– People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)
– Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours
– Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’
– Childcare and early educators to remain closed
– Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption
– Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry
– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only
– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect
– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping
Step two – came into effect September 28
– Melbourne’s curfew lifted
– Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households
– Childcare and early educators can re-open
– Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4
– There will be an increase to permitted workplaces
Step three – originally expected October 26, brought forward to October 19
– There are no restrictions on leaving home
– Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors
– A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another
– Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite
– Work from home is encouraged
– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor
– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed
– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment
– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked
Step four – expected in November, dependent on new case numbers:
– Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors
– Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time
– All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place
– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue
– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants
Step five – COVID normal:
– Public gatherings have no restriction
– There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes
– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers
– Schools to reopen as normal
– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records