Changes to restrictions

Sarah Luke

Which restrictions are being eased

THE household bubble has been scrapped and up to 110 people can attend individual restaurants in regional Victoria, under changes to restrictions announced on Sunday.

Effective immediately, up to two people can visit a home each day in regional Victoria.

Infants under 12 months are not included in this cap, and other dependents can also attend if they cannot be left unattended or cared for in another setting.

The two people may be from different households.

Regional libraries and toy libraries can open for up to 20 people indoors, but no more than 10 people can gather in a space (for example for a class).

The one person per four square metre rule, signs, cleaning and record-keeping requirements apply.

Outdoor religious gatherings are allowed for up to 20 people plus one faith leader – replacing the previous limit of 10 people.

This includes ceremonies, with no sharing of food, drink, crockery, utensils, vessels or other equipment by participants. This will be lifted to 50 people from November 1.

Limits on people in restaurants and caf├ęs have increased to 70 people outdoors and up to 10 people per indoor space, with a maximum of 40 people per venue indoors.

Restrictions apply, including the two and four square metre rules.

Local businesses must continue to ensure people from metropolitan Melbourne do not eat-in.

Melbourne residents celebrated changes to their strict requirements on Sunday, with some room to move after months of lockdown.

The five kilometre radius rule, preventing travel further than 5km from Melburnians’ homes or permitted workplaces, has been bumped up to 25km.

There is no longer a two-hour limit on leaving home, and Melburnians can now leave home for any period of time to exercise or see friends and family outdoors.

Melburnians can now also meet in groups of up to 10 people from a maximum of two households outdoors in a public place to socialise (children under 12 months of age not included in the limit).

Melbourne hairdressers will be able to open, with strict safety protocols in place, and thousands of workers will be able to resume their jobs, including tradesmen undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work, mobile pet groomers and photographers.

Tennis courts, golf courses and skate parks have also been able to reopen, after months of closure, and outdoor real estate auctions will be able to take place with up to 10 people, plus the required staff.

On November 1, Melbourne can take the remainder of the third step under the state government’s ‘roadmap’ plan out of restrictions, but Premier Daniel Andrews also flagged the possibility to moving to the third step sooner if the city continued to track well.

The third step will result in the return of retail, hospitality and personal care services, the removal of the four reasons to leave home, and the same social arrangements as regional Victoria.

Mr Andrews said the “ring of steel” around Melbourne would remain in place.

“I know there’ll be plenty of people who want to know when they can head to regional Victoria.

“And unfortunately, for now, that’s off the cards,” he said.

“As we’ve seen this week, this virus is wildly infectious – and we all need to help protect the hard-won gains of our regional communities.”

In announcing the changes, Mr Andrews pointed out in August and at Victoria’s peak, there were 725 daily cases reported, while at the same time, the United Kingdom recorded 891 cases.

“Today, as Victoria records two new cases, the UK hit 16,171,” he said.

“And as we continue easing our restrictions – they are being forced to increase theirs.

“I know these changes can’t be absolutely everything everyone wants.

“But they are the steps we can safely take that will make life a little bit easier.”

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said while the news had been positive for some, many businesses had been overlooked and must wait longer.

Chamber chief executive Paul Guerra called for the Premier to lift restrictions on business by this coming Sunday, including lifting hospitality limits to 20 people per space indoors as part of a viable reopening.

“Now, with the Premier signalling the potential to open even earlier, the Victorian Chamber asks every Victorian to do the right thing so the Premier can announce full reopening of business next Sunday,” he said.

“We cannot keep the state locked up.

“The contact tracing system is in place, businesses have CO VIDSafe plans, and if every Victorian commits to doing the right thing with masks, social distancing and testing, we can again enjoy a sense of CO VID normality, like we have seen in other states.”

Mr Guerra added not only should Victorian businesses open up, but the border restrictions from South Australia and New South Wales should be dropped.