Melbourne will move out of its two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown from Friday, with the state government announcing a raft of restrictions that will be lifted.
Confirmation of the move out of lockdown comes after the state recorded just one new locally-acquired case of the virus in the state over the past 24 hours.
Health authorities confirmed that the one new locally acquired case was linked to the current outbreaks and had been quarantining during their infectious period.
A travel radius around Melburnians’ homes will stay in place. However, under the new rules, the radius will grow from 10km to 25km in a bid to keep people from travelling to the state’s regions over the long weekend. The state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton explained that the radius is in place to limit the potential of virus’s spread around the state.
“If you have the full freedom of movement across metro Melbourne and we’ve seen at its peak hundreds of exposure sites … the ability to transmit across metropolitan Melbourne increases,” Professor Sutton said.
From Friday, the five reasons for leaving the home will be lifted for those in metropolitan Melbourne.
Cafes and restaurants will be permitted to reopen with a limit of 100 people per venue and 50 people inside.
Students will be permitted to return to face-to-face learning in the classroom across all age groups.
Visitors to the home continue to be banned however, Melburnians will be allowed to gather in groups of up to 10 outside of the home.
Masks will remain mandatory in all indoor settings, but people would be permitted to dispense with their mask when outdoors unless social distancing cannot be maintained.
Retail will be permitted to reopen with density caps of 1 person per 4 square metres in place.
Funerals will be permitted with a limit of 50 people, with weddings capped at 10.
Beauty salons and hairdressers will once again be allowed to operate, as long as staff and customers are able to wear masks while working.
Density caps for offices would remain, with either 25 per cent capacity or 10 people allowed in offices, depending on whichever is the bigger number.
Community sports groups will be permitted to return to training from Friday, with matches expected to return from next week.
The government also confirmed that gyms, amusement parks, dance studios and nightclubs will remain closed for the time being however, the state government will move to further support with another $8.63 million set aside for affected businesses. The state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton explained that gyms are high-risk environments for the transmission of viruses through aerosol spread.
“At this juncture, closure is the appropriate measure, that’s the view of the public health team,” Professor Sutton told reporters.
Acting Premier James Merlino also flagged that the government will move to introduce mandatory QR code check-ins for workplaces pointing to the record of transmissions having occurred in offices and worksites across Melbourne.
Regional Victorian restrictions set to ease further
Meanwhile, restrictions for the state’s regions are set to ease further from Friday in time for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
People will once again be permitted to visit homes, with limits of two adults per day to be allowed from Friday. 20 people will be allowed in public gatherings.
Caps on restaurants and cafes will be raised to 150 people per venue, with 75 people permitted indoors, while religious ceremonies will be permitted to be held with the same caps as hospitality venues.
Office attendance will be capped at 50 per cent per workplace. Community sport will once again be allowed with matches once again permitted.
Those in regional Victoria will also be allowed to travel throughout the state’s regions in time for the long weekend.
More restriction easing flagged by Acting Premier
Acting Premier James Merlino has also flagged that Victorians should expect further easing of restrictions from next week with those in regional Victoria told that they should expect the full easing of restrictions to COVID-normal.
Authorities are hoping that metropolitan Melbourne will revert to the new regional Victoria restrictions from next Thursday.
“Subject to the public health advice … we expect to be that next Thursday night the regional/metro divisions will come down,” Mr Merlino flagged.
However, Brett Sutton was slightly more cautious, telling reporters that “we will assess on a day-by-day basis”.