Lockdown to lift in regional Vic

LOCKDOWN restrictions will lift in regional Victoria from 11.59pm tomorrow night.

With the exemption of Shepparton, the five reasons to leave home will be removed in regional Victoria, and there will be no limit on the distance regional Victorians can travel from home – other than restricted entry to metropolitan Melbourne.

The authorised worker list will no longer apply in the regions, meaning most businesses and venues can reopen with capacity and density limits.

Masks will continue to be required indoors and outdoors, apart from private residences, unless an exception applies.

Regional Victorians will return to the rule ‘if you can work from home, you should work from home’ but office workers will be able to return up to 25 per cent or up to 10 people, whichever is greater.

Regional schools will reopen for onsite learning for prep to Year 2 and Year 12 students who live in regional Victoria. However remote learning will remain for all other year levels, putting continuing pressure on parents who are trying to juggle work and home schooling.

Onsite supervision at schools remains available for vulnerable children and children of essential workers in all year levels, including for students from metropolitan Melbourne.

Funerals will be permitted for up to 20 people and weddings will be permitted for up to 10 people, plus those required to conduct the service. Stricter limits will be in place for both weddings and funerals with people from Melbourne in attendance.

Restaurants and cafes can reopen for seated service, with up to 20 people allowed outdoors, and 10 people indoors, subject to density limits.

All beauty and personal care services can reopen with a cap of 10 people, and masks must remain on for the duration of the service.

Retail, entertainment venues and community facilities will also open in line with density limits and patron caps.

Businesses that are open in regional Victoria – such as restaurants or beauty services – must check the IDs of everyone they serve to ensure the virus does not travel from Melbourne into regional Victoria.

Given the clearly increasing risk coming from Melbourne, Victoria Police will significantly expand their operation along the metropolitan border to protect regional Victoria.

Police will also be out in force in regional areas, conducting spot checks to ensure people from metropolitan Melbourne are not in the regionals are not unless for authorised reasons.

The fine for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions is $5452.

Fronting media on Wednesday morning, Premier Daniel Andrews thanked regional Victorians for doing an incredible job keeping each other safe, keeping case numbers low and contained.

“While this is fantastic news for most of regional Victoria, we’re encouraging everyone in these areas to keep up all the COVIDSafe practices and most importantly, keep coming forward to get vaccinated,” he said.

He said his government was also working to getting Victorians stuck on the border home safely as soon as possible, and will commence trials of home-based quarantine.

The first of these pilots will support about 200 Victorian residents who have been stuck on the New South Wales side of the border to return home.

Victorians who have been residing in a NSW local government border area for at least the 14 days from Wednesday, August 25 to Wednesday, September 8 will be able to apply for a new permit exemption category: ‘Victorians in the cross-border community’ to come home.

Applications for exemptions will be open for seven days from noon on Friday, September 10, closing 6pm on Friday, September 17.

Victorians applying for this exemption will need to provide proof of their primary residence in Victoria, evidence of a negative COVID19 test result 48 hours prior to their arrival in Victoria and that they have received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Applicants will also be required to provide evidence such as receipts and QR check in records that they have stayed within the border region and maintained minimal social contact while in NSW.

Victorians will be able to apply for the repatriation exemption via the Service Victoria website or mobile application and applications will be assessed within 72 hours.

Successful applicants will be required to drive directly to their home in Victoria, stopping only for a further test along the way and then isolate at their home for 14 days.

Any other household members are also required to quarantine and compliance checks from authorised officers will help ensure returnees are observing their quarantine obligations.

Any Victorians who are currently in NSW or the ACT but have not been in a designated NSW border Local Government Area all of the last 14 days are not eligible to apply and should remain where they are.

The government says it is working on further pilots which would support Victorians in other areas of NSW and the ACT who want to come home.

Some of these trials for people coming from higher risk areas may involve technology solutions to assist with monitoring of home quarantine.

For more information, phone the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 or click here.

There were 221 new COVID-19 cases announced today, with only 98 linked.Of the 1920 active cases across Victoria, 86 per cent are under the age of 50.

Health authorities are describing this wave as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, as of the 120 people in hospital, 87 per cent of cases are not vaccinated, 13 per cent are partially vaccinated and no-one has been double dosed.

Thirty-three people are in intensive care, and 15 are on ventilators.

Yesterday was the state’s biggest day of vaccinating ever, with more than 36,716 doses administered across state clinics, and there were 73,000 bookings to receive the vaccine made yesterday.

The state has now reached more than 2.6 million doses, with 62.2 per cent of the population receiving the first dose, and 38.6 per cent is fully vaccinated – which is ahead of the government’s September 23 target date to ease restrictions statewide.