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Sweeping changes to Victorian COVID-19 restrictions in time for Christmas

Christmas is back on for Victorians with a series of sweeping changes to the state’s coronavirus restrictions after months in strict lockdown.

Starting from December 13, residents will be allowed to host Christmas parties and other gatherings inside their homes for up to 30 guests.

In a more immediate change, from 11.59pm tonight, masks will no longer have to be worn outdoors, as long as social distancing is maintained.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews. (Nine)

Premier Daniel Andrews described how this would work in practice using a trip to Bunnings as an example.

“If you go to Bunnings and you are inside the store, you are wearing a mask,” he said.

“If you are in the car park, you do not have to wear your mask, but if you are queueing up for a sausage, and you are with other people and you are simply not keeping a distance, you are part of a crowd, you need to put the mask on.”

He said Victorians still needed to carry their mask with them at all times, as they would never know when they may need it.

Diners are seen eating outside of restaurant Movida in Melbourne earlier this month. From 11.59pm tonight, smaller venues will be allowed to seat up to 50 people indoors following a two-square metre rule. (Getty)

However, some of these went further than what had been outlined.

Large bars, pubs and restaurants will be able to host up to 200 people outside and 100 people indoors, so long as the four-square metre rule is maintained.

However, in a win for small venues, this rule has been relaxed to two-square metres indoors with a cap of 50 people in total.

The changes to gatherings inside households have gone further than forecast, with up to 15 visitors allowed from tomorrow.

Dependents are included in this number except for infants under 12 months old.

Mr Andrews emphasised that this meant 15 people across a whole day, not at a single time.

Pedestrians wearing masks on Flinders Street in Melbourne earlier this month. From midnight tonight, masks won’t be required outdoors so long as social distancing is followed.. (Getty)

Mr Andrews called the steps “a recognition of this precious thing that we have built”.

“It (no coronavirus cases) is incredibly valuable but it is also fragile.”

Speaking at this morning’s press conference, Chief Health Office Professor Brett Sutton said he was “confident” that COVID-19 had been stamped out from the Victorian community.

“Elimination may or may not be the right word,” he said.

“We’re talking about no community transmission – I’m confident we are there now.

“We have not got into the epidemiological threshold of 28 days yet but I’m confident we will get to that.”

However, he warned against complacency, saying that the situation in South Australia demonstrated how outbreaks could continue to occur.

Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians. Visit the site here or call 1800512348
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Source: 9News

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