Melburnians will be given more freedoms from 11.59pm tonight, as restrictions ease after more than 100 days of a hard lockdown.
The five kilometre travel restriction has been extended to 25 kilometres, with the city’s two-hour time limits on gathering and exercising outside scrapped.
The number of people gathering outdoors has been increased to 10 people, from two households.
Residents will be able to enjoy freedoms like getting their hair done, playing tennis with friends and selling their home at auctions, but will not be able to dine out or have a drink at the pub until November 1.
The new rules mean people will be able to gather with family and friends outside for as long as they like, providing they are social distancing and wearing masks.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the variation on step three restrictions at a press conference today, stressing the state could not rush opening up after some of the world’s harshest restrictions.
Sporting activities like tennis and golf will be allowed from tomorrow. Skate parks will also reopen.
Hairdressers will also be able to reopen their doors.
Real estate auctions will be allowed with a maximum of 10 people and commercial real estate inspections can occur.
Outdoor pools can host 30 swimmers and hydro-therapy will be permitted for indoor pools.
However retail will not be allowed to open until November 1.
Also from November 1, two people can visit other people’s homes once a day, and the four reasons to leave home will be removed.
Bars, restaurants can also open on that day, with 20 people allowed inside and 50 out. Beauty salons can also open then.
A maximum of 20 people will be allowed for outdoor religious gatherings. A maximum of 10 people will be allowed at weddings and 20 mourners at funerals.
However, gyms will not reopen anytime soon both in regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne.
“That is a high-risk environment,” Mr Andrews said.
“It would not be safe to do that.”
‘The bubble is gone’
Mr Andrews commended Victorians for their sacrifices as he announced the easing of restrictions.
“Victorians have done an amazing job over recent weeks and months,” Mr Andrews said.
“What it means is that as so many cities across the world head into what is going to be a deadly winter, we in Melbourne and across Victoria are well-placed to have a COVIDSafe summer and a COVID normal 2021.
“Yes, these lockdowns have come with pain and damage and hurt but the strategy is working and will continue to work.
“Not so long ago we had 725 cases and there was simply no way we could have a debate, a perfectly legitimate debate about how to open, went to open, how to do that.
“It was not an option available to any of us.
“But Victorians, in every community, from every background, every circumstance, have stayed the course and we just have a little longer to go, just a little longer to go in order to see off the second wave, defeat the second wave, and then to find the normal and to begin the process of rebuilding – not just repairing damage but making sure our state, individuals, families, communities, the economy, is stronger than it has ever been.”
Health Minister Martin Foley also praised the millions of Victorians for sticking to the rules.
“All Victorians have achieved a remarkable result over the last few months,” Mr Foley said.
“Everyone who has dug deep, made extraordinary sacrifices and carried an extraordinary burden has allowed us to see the results of the last few months.”
Changes in Regional Victoria
Residents in regional Victoria will be allowed to have two visitors to their homes plus dependents from 11.59pm tonight.
Pubs and other venues can increase their capacity to 70 people outside and 40 people inside – with four groups of 10 people permitted, instead of two groups of 10.
Outdoor religious gatherings will increase to 20 people.
Indoor pools are open for those aged 18 and under with a maximum of 20 swimmers, and one-on-one hydrotherapy with health professionals will also be allowed.
Libraries will open again with a maximum of 20 people. Households can visit a care facility rather than one person at a time.
Then from 11:59pm Sunday, 1 November, non-contact indoor physical recreation for under 18- year-olds, including dance classes, will be allowed again with a maximum of 20 people.
Non-contact indoor community sport for under 18-year-olds with limits on spectators, will also be permitted again.
There are just seven people with the virus in regional Victoria
Grand Final Warning
The premier issued a stern warning over those wanting to watch Melbourne in the AFL Grand Final on Saturday, which is being held in Queensland this year.
“You cannot have friends over into your home,” he said.
“You cannot pretend that it is over because we all desperately want it to be.
“As important as it is, in a cultural sense, in a very passionate way, for every single football fan across our state, it is not worth risking all that we have done, all that we have built, all that we can do in just a few days’ time by having gatherings that are unsafe.”
Travel rule ‘under review’
Melbourne’s new 25km radius travel rule will be in place until at least November 1, where it will then be reviewed.
However, the premier said he expects it will remain in place for “a bit longer” to prevent large numbers of people gathering across the city.
“It will limit movement and stop large groups of people … congregating in some of well-known and well understood places of great beauty, whether it be up in the Dandenongs or down in the Mornington Peninsula,” he said.
“It is just about trying to keep people closer to home than they would otherwise be, and it will only be there for so long as it serves a purpose.”
Mr Andrews said the decision to expand the radius to 25km was made on the basis that a smaller expansion of 10km would not be of much benefit to people.
“This thing hitches a ride, and the further you travel the further you will take it,” he said.
“But with these low numbers we can go to 25km, and hopefully at some point soon, we can go even further than that.”