Mask rules eased, as our COVID safe summer is revealed

Sarah Luke

VICTORIA’S ‘COVID safe summer’ is here, after Premier Daniel Andrews announced further easing of restrictions on Sunday.

Effective from11.59pm on Sunday night, the state has fallen under lighter restrictions that will be in place until at least the end of January.

Masks are now only required on public transport, in rideshare vehicles and taxis, and in some retail settings such as indoor shopping centres, supermarkets, department stores and indoor markets.

Masks are no longer mandatory in offices, but are still strongly “recommended” indoors or outdoors, when distancing can’t be maintained.

They still must be carried at all times.

People can host up to 30 people in their home, and outdoor gatherings in public places have increased to 100.

Density limits in pubs, restaurants and caf├ęs has changed to one person per two square metres for indoor and outdoor dining, with no other cap – meaning standing service is now allowed.

The use of electronic record keeping, such as QR codes, is mandatory.

And for small operations, there are no density limits if the patron number is under 25.

For beauty services, businesses will be able to move to one person per two square metres – if they also introduce electronic record keeping.

For businesses where that is not possible, the existing density limits will continue to apply.

The Premier said he expected beauty and hairdressing staff to maintain the standard and continue to wear masks.

Retail businesses can also move to one person per two square metres, and electronic record keeping is recommended where practical.

The cap for funerals and weddings has also been removed, but there is a density limit of one person per two square metres.

The same density limits will apply for community facilities, like libraries, RSLs, and community halls.

Dance floors and night clubs will be able to host up to 50 people, with a density of one person per four square metres.

In gyms, the density limit will move to one per four square metres – with exercise classes limited to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.

Up to 50 per cent of office workers and 25 per cent of public service workers can return to the workplace by January 11.

Premier Andrews inferred the state would remain under some level of restrictions “until we have a vaccine – and even then, until we have a widely distributed vaccine”.

“These are the restrictions that will see us through the summer months – and living as normally as we can until we get a greater sense of what the rest of 2021 will look like,” he said.

“As always, this won’t be everything for everyone.

“But these are the careful steps we can take as we continue to protect our state and everything we’re built.”

When the Gippsland Times went to print Monday morning, the state had reached its 38th consecutive day of recording zero daily cases.

Two international travellers are now in mandatory quarantine, after arriving in Sydney on Saturday and boarding a domestic flight to Melbourne without quarantining in New South Wales.

They are not showing symptoms of COVID-19, have had no known recent contact with a confirmed case and initial tests have returned negative results.