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Daniel Andrews eases Victoria's coronavirus restrictions on travel, outdoor gatherings, sport, hairdressers and auctions

ABC News logo ABC News 18/10/2020
a person walking down a sidewalk: Under a further easing of Victoria's coronavirus restrictions from November 2, people in Melbourne will be allowed to leave their homes for any reason. (ABC News: John Edward Graham) © Provided by ABC Health Under a further easing of Victoria's coronavirus restrictions from November 2, people in Melbourne will be allowed to leave their homes for any reason. (ABC News: John Edward Graham)

Melbourne's travel radius has been expanded to 25 kilometres and people are able to leave their homes for as long as they like, under a relaxed set of coronavirus restrictions that kicked in from midnight.

Social and recreational restrictions have been eased in Melbourne, and regional Victoria has also seen some rules relaxed earlier than scheduled.

Another round of significant changes in Melbourne has also been scheduled for November 2, including lifting stay-at-home orders and allowing hospitality venues to seat patrons again.

The changes taking effect today include:

  • Scrapping the two-hour time limit for exercise and socialising
  • Allowing groups of up to 10 people, from two households, to gather in public outdoor areas
  • Reopening outdoor sports settings like tennis courts, golf courses and skateparks
  • Allowing outdoor swimming pools to host up to 30 swimmers
  • Allowing hairdressers to open
  • Allowing outdoor real estate auctions to go ahead, with up to 10 people, plus staff
  • Permitting non-essential outdoor home maintenance, with up to five workers
  • Resuming face-to-face consultations at many allied health services

There are no changes to the rules regarding masks, and people who can work from home must continue to do so.

November changes could be brought forward, Andrews says

The Premier outlined how more restrictions will be eased in Melbourne on November 2.

From that date, people in Melbourne will be allowed to leave their homes for any reason.

Visiting people at their homes will also be permitted, but with limits. Up to two people, plus dependents, can visit a household, but only once per day.

Retail will be allowed to reopen, and beauty and personal services can return.

For the first time in months, hospitality businesses will be allowed to seat patrons, including inside. Restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs will allowed to host one person for every 4 square metres. They will be limited to 10 people per indoor space, with a maximum of 20 people indoors.

Outdoors, they will be capped at one person per 2 square metres, up to a maximum of 50 patrons.

Groups will be capped at 10 people, seated 1.5 metres from other groups.

In bad news for football fans, home visitors will not be allowed in time for the AFL grand final this weekend.

"I know that many people would normally spend time with family and friends to celebrate that day, whether their team is in the grand final or not — it is a big part of who we are," Mr Andrews said.

"But your household and only the members of your household, that is how grand final day has to be. You cannot have friends over into your home. You cannot pretend that [the pandemic] is over because we all desperately want it to be."

The Premier did not make any announcements about the Melbourne Cup, but said the Racing Minister "would have more to say soon".

Opposition says interstate success shows Victorians are needlessly suffering

Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said many businesses could not afford to keep their doors closed for another fortnight while the Premier "chases an unattainable target".

"Other states have proven that you can stay open with COVID and do it safely," he said.

"South Australia had more cases on Saturday than Victoria did, yet 24,000 people went to the footy on Friday night.

"New South Wales had more cases on Saturday than Victoria did, yet their pubs and their bars and their shops remained open.

"Daniel Andrews is pursuing an elimination strategy when we need to have a suppression strategy that lets us live safely with COVID."

Mr O'Brien wants all high school students to return to class before October 26, and he called for people to be allowed to have one other household over to watch next weekend's AFL grand final outdoors.

If case numbers remain low over the next week, and there is a "sense of certainty" in the circumstances surrounding those cases, the Premier said some of the changes scheduled for early November could happen ahead of time.

Health officials will be monitoring case data every day for the next week, he said.

"I ask Victorians to keep working very hard each day this week, so that we can stand up here next Sunday and make further announcements that what is slated for November 1 can be brought forward," he said.

Home visits and hospitality changes coming in regional Victoria

A number of restrictions in regional Victoria will also be eased ahead of schedule, with some changes taking effect today.

Up to two people plus dependents are allowed to visit people in their homes once per day.

The household bubble rule has been scrapped, meaning households can have visitors from as many other residences as they like, provided the limits on the number of visitors at one time are adhered to.

Hospitality venues can increase their capacity to 70 people outside and 40 people inside.

Indoor pools can open for a maximum of 20 swimmers who are 18 and under, and one-on-one hydrotherapy sessions are also permitted.

Libraries are allowed to reopen in regional Victoria, but with a maximum of 20 people.

The limit on the number of people who can attend outdoor religious gatherings has increased to 20.

Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said he wanted to see a separate roadmap for regional Victoria that was not linked to case numbers in Melbourne.

"The fact that we can't go to the last step until there is 14 clear days of no cases in Melbourne, I think, is wrong," he said.

"The fact we can't go to COVID normal until there's 28 days with no cases again, I think penalises regional Victoria unduly."

Mr Walsh said it was unfair that religious gatherings faced stricter restrictions than pubs in regional Victoria.

"If religious gatherings have to actually go to the pub so they can have more people turn up to their services, there is something wrong with Daniel Andrews's rules."

Melburnians remain locked inside the city for some time

The "ring of steel" that separates metropolitan Melbourne from regional Victoria will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Mr Andrews said the border would be strengthened, with more checkpoints and more cars being pulled over.

"Follow the rules and get the numbers in Melbourne as low as they are in regional Victoria. Then we will all be able to move freely around our state," he said.

Some small changes have also been scheduled from November 2 in regional Victoria.

Non-contact indoor physical recreation for under-18s, such as dance classes, will be allowed with a maximum of 20 people.

Non-contact indoor community sport for under-18s will also be allowed, but there will be a limit on spectator numbers.

Statement from the Premier:

There's been plenty said about how challenging 2020 has been.

And it's true. This year has asked more of us — taken more from us — than any year, ever.

But 2020 has also proven, without doubt, the incredible courage of Victorians.

We have found it in ourselves to stay the course. And as a state — millions strong — we are defeating this virus.

Other places around the world have not been so successful.

Back in August and at our peak, we reported 725 daily cases. At the same time, the UK recorded 891.

Today, as Victoria records two new cases, the UK hit 16,171. And as we continue easing our restrictions — they are being forced to increase theirs.

We are seeing states and cities, not so different from our own, overwhelmed by their second wave.

Doctors and nurses being asked to decide which of their patients are most worthy of their care.

And communities — entire countries — confronting the reality that this will be "normal" until there is a vaccine.

We have escaped that awful eventuality. With modest acts of greatness and kindness, we have endured this — together.

Today, and on the strength of that success, we've been able to progress a number of changes.

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.

From 11:59pm tonight, the five-kilometre limit for exercise and shopping will be extended to 25 kilometres. The two-hour time limit for exercise and socialising will also fall away.

Outdoor sports settings like tennis courts, golf courses and skateparks will be able to reopen.

All allied health professionals currently operating will be able to resume routine face-to-face care.

Outdoor real estate auctions will be able to take place with up to 10 people, plus the required staff.

And in good news for those sizing up the scissors or cautiously contemplating a buzzcut — hairdressers will be able to open, with strict safety protocols in place.

From tonight, groups of up to ten people from two households will also be able to gather in outdoor public places.

That could be for exercise — or a picnic in the park.

I know some people will reasonably ask why it's limited to two households — and not five or ten. But by limiting the number of households, we're limiting any potential spread of the virus.

We're also able to get thousands more Victorians back to work — particularly those who work outside. That includes tradies undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work, mobile pet groomers and photographers.

These are the changes we can safely make from tonight.

We need to wait just a bit longer — until 11:59pm on 1 November — to take the rest of the Third Step that will see retail, hospitality and personal care services open again.

This is a timeline that is based on the current advice of our public health team.

But if we continue to track well on the most important indicators — case averages, mystery cases, test numbers and the number of days people wait before they get tested — we may be in a position to move sooner.

These indicators help tell us the story that sits behind a case — and understand how we can safely make our next moves.

My commitment to Melburnians: we'll review this data each and every day this week and when we get to next weekend, if we can move any earlier and do it safely, we will.

When we do reach the Third Step it will also mean we move from "stay home" to "stay safe" — with no restrictions on the reasons to leave home.

Under this step, all remaining retail will open. Restaurants, cafes and pubs will open. And personal and beauty services will be able to offer treatments to clients — as long as a face mask can be worn.

These businesses will be able to have staff onsite for a 'dark opening' from 28 October, giving them time to prepare to open their doors to the public.

We'll also be able to go a bit further on home visits too — allowing households to have two people and their dependents visit their home once per day.

The other aspects of our roadmap — from accommodation to outdoor sport — will also be introduced.

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. 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.

Because we are doing so well in regional Victoria, we're able to make a few changes there too.

From tonight, regional libraries and toy libraries will be able to open to a maximum of 20 people indoors.

People will be able to hold outdoor religious gatherings with up to 20 people — and 50 from 1 November.

And in good news for our regional hospitality businesses, they'll be able to host up to 40 customers indoors and up to 70 outdoors from 11:59pm tonight.

Staying safe is more important than ever. So please, keep wearing a mask, keep maintaining your distance — and if you feel sick, get tested and stay home.

I understand that for some these changes won't be enough. They'll want more — and they'll want it sooner.

But the whole way through this, we have been guided by our public health experts and their advice.

None of us ever want to do this again.

We have come too far — sacrificed too much — to give up now. We are so close.

These are the safe, steady steps that will see us out of this — and see us through to the other side.

We can do this.

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