Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced “a small first step” in the relaxation of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
The changes come into effect at 11:59pm on Tuesday and will be in place until the end of May.
Here’s what it means for you.
Five people can visit your house
Yep, get excited but not too excited.
You can now invite five friends or family members over to your house, in addition to those who already live in your household.
But Mr Andrews warned it was “not an invitation to host a dinner party every night of the week”.
“It’s not about having a rotating roster of acquaintances and associates, or your third-best-friend from primary school, over for a visit,” he said.
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The visits must be between close friends and family.
“If there are outbreaks we need to be able to contact trace,” he said.
“Obviously family and friends, people who are known to you, are going to be a much easier process.”
So, kids can see their grandparents?
According to that rule, it is now possible for children to see their grandparents.
But that doesn’t mean they should.
The Premier said it was up to families to decide if it’s safe to allow children to visit their grandparents.(Supplied: Victoria Fletcher)
Mr Andrews said he wouldn’t be visiting his mum, as much as he’d like to, and encouraged other families to think long and hard about the decision.
“She’s in her mid-70s, she’s in good health but she has a number of underlying health issues and I just don’t think that would be the right thing to do,” the Premier said.
“People will have to make deeply personal judgements about this and I’m not criticising anybody who makes a different judgement.”
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He said families who do visit older relatives should be putting extra precautions in place such as using hand sanitiser when they arrive and avoiding hugs.
You can go outdoors in groups of 10
Sport and recreation is back on the cards in groups of up to 10 people.
Victorians can now kick a footy and do other non-contact sports in groups of 10.(Supplied)
You can go hiking, fishing, hunting, diving, prospecting, boating, go for a walk or play non-contact sport together outdoors.
But Mr Andrews said “common sense” physical distancing and hygiene measures must remain in place.
For example, here’s how to conduct a safe kick-to-kick session.
“There can’t be more than 10 of you and you should keep your distance,” Mr Andrews said.
“It should be non-contact and you should clean your hands when you start your kick-to-kick session, you should clean the ball and your hands at the end and avoid touching your face.”
More guests for weddings and funerals
Weddings will now be able to have 10 guests, plus the couple and the celebrant.(Supplied: Jeremy Wong)
Mr Andrews also said 10 guests would now be allowed to attend weddings, in addition to the couple and celebrant.
Funerals held indoors may have 20 mourners in addition to the people required to conduct the funeral, while 30 mourners will be allowed at services held outdoors.
But if a funeral is held at a private home the five-visitor rule still applies.
At both weddings and funerals there needs to be a list of names and contact details for each guest to assist in contact tracing if required.
Socially distant fishing is allowed
Fishing is back on the cards if you can maintain a safe distance from other people.
“You just can’t have 10 people in a boat that doesn’t allow you to be 1.5 metres apart,” Mr Andrews said.
Overnight getaways are a no-no
You can go for a hike in a national park but camping is not allowed.(ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)
While you can drive as far as you like to go for a surf or a hike, you are not allowed to stay overnight.
This also applies to National Parks. Those parks which can facilitate social distancing will be open but camping will not be allowed.
“AirBnb will not be taking bookings. There will not be bookings at hotels,” Mr Andrews said.
“Camping will not be allowed.”
Golf is back, but clubrooms are closed
The contentious issue of playing golf has been put to rest.
It’s now allowed, but don’t expect to enjoy a few beers in the clubrooms at the end of it.
“You might be able to play a game of golf, but there won’t be rakes in the bunkers, and people won’t be milling around the club house,” Mr Andrews said.
“The club house will in fact be shut.”
Golf will be allowed for the rest of May, provided there’s no gatherings in clubhouses.(ABC News)
Community sport won’t be back this month
Mr Andrews said community sports clubs could start training again, if they adhered to the 10-person rule and “common sense” public health measures were put in place.
“If you are sharing equipment, you should try to minimise that. But if it’s unavoidable, given the nature of the sport, then you should hand sanitise, clean the equipment, all of those quite logical things,” Mr Andrews said.
But the Premier made it clear there would not be a return to competitions or large community events this month.
“This is mainly about training and social activity. It’s not about a return to a full Auskick program, it’s not amateur footy coming back at pace,” he said.
While training is now allowed in groups of 10, there’s no return date for community sport competitions.(Hailey Renault)
Retail therapy is still only for essentials
Mr Andrews said it was “disappointing” to see people gathering at shopping centres over the weekend and ignoring social-distancing guidelines, but he understood there was a level of frustration at the strict lockdowns.
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He said the new measures announced today should alleviate some of the frustration.
“Hopefully that sees less activity in shopping centres,” he said.
“Hopefully that means people are less inclined to do things they don’t really need to do and shopping for things you don’t really need is one of those things.”
Mr Andrews said a broader opening of the retail sector could be possible in June.
More freedom for real estate sector
Ten people will be allowed to attend an open house inspection plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to facilitate the inspection.
The same rule will apply to real estate auctions.
Agents will be required to keep records of names and contact details of each person to help with contact tracing if it’s required.
No relaxation for cafes, restaurants, pubs
While other states have relaxed the rules around hospitality, cafes and restaurants in Victoria will continue to be restricted to takeaway, at least for the rest of May.
Cafes and restaurants will not be allowed to welcome back diners this month, but must continue serving takeaway only.(ABC News: James Hancock)
But Mr Andrews made it pretty clear he was eyeing it as one of the things to consider changing next month.
“I think the feedback from many, many businesses is that at just 10 patrons, it’s really hard to be viable,” he said.
“If we wait these three weeks, when we move to go beyond just takeaway for cafes we might not have to stick with a number of 10, we might be able to go higher than that.
“If we just wait these three weeks, if we do the testing, if we have that further assurance that the significant steps we have taken today isn’t causing us trouble that we can’t manage, then I think we can take a bigger step, potentially, in June for cafes and restaurants and get them to a point where they are viable.”
Essential support groups can operate
The Premier also announced essential support groups, such as parents’ groups and alcohol and drug support groups, would be allowed to operate.
There can be no more than 10 people in the group, plus the people facilitating the session.
They must maintain physical distancing of four-square-metres per person and can be held in community facilities such as halls and RSL clubs.
“Some counselling services which we believe are really very important things like Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, things of that nature, counselling and other integral community meetings, they will be allowed,” Mr Andrews said.
Small religious ceremonies of up to 10 people, plus those conducting the service, can also be held at churches, mosques and other places of worship if contact details are recorded.
AFL clubs will be allowed to train
Mr Andrews said allowing AFL clubs and other professional sporting codes to train was the first step towards resuming the season.
“Training resuming paves the way for footy to be back and I think we all want that provided it’s safe, appropriate and can be done in a cautious way and I’m confident that it can be,” he said.
Mr Andrews said clubs would have to ensure any facility they used was just for them, to help with contact tracing and to protect the public if an outbreak occurred.
“I’m confident that they understand that there are risks and they need to do everything they can to mitigate those,” he said.
“And to the extent that they can’t, the notion of having [the training facility] exclusively for that team, for that code, protects the rest of us.”
He said any announcements about when the season would resume would be made by the AFL.
Schools will be back before the end of term
Victoria has changed its approach to school shutdowns and has now flagged a return to classrooms before the end of term.(ABC News: Evelyn Manfield)
After telling Victorian families to prepare for at-home learning for all of term two, Mr Andrews today announced there would be a staged return to face-to-face learning before the next school holidays.
“We’re very close to finalising a plan,” he said.
“We now believe that a gradual, staged return to face-to-face learning is safe, cautious and appropriate given the testing we’ve done and the circumstances we face.
“Today is not the day to announce the details of that that’ll be done soon and we’ll give parents lots of notice.”
Professor Sutton said he agreed that schools could reopen soon.
“From a public health point of view, I don’t have an issue with schools reopening,” he said.
“The general messaging that we have for the entire community about keeping your distance, minimising non-essential travel outside of your home, are the same things that would apply for parents and schools.
“So if they can keep their distance, if they cannot congregate with other parents to the extent that it’s feasible, that’s useful advice.”
Professor Sutton said the easing of restrictions was “a great global experiment”.
“It’s appropriate to be cautious and safe about it,” he said.
No handshakes, no hugs
Professor Sutton said it was up to individuals whether they shake hands, kiss or hug.
Vic COVID-19 snapshot
- Confirmed cases so far: 1,494
- Deaths: 18
- Suspected cases of community transmission: 161
- Cases in hospital: 7
- Intensive care patients: 5
- Recovered patients: 1,360
- Tests: More than 245,000
Updated Monday, May 11
Latest information from the Victorian Government
But even though there’s no official rules to prevent it, his clear advice was to not do it.
“I wouldn’t be doing it because it’s clearly a very close contact,” he said.
“There must be circumstances though, where it’s really important for an individual I’m not going to step into their private life.
“But I would say from a public health perspective, no handshakes, no hugs and kisses is the safest thing to do.”
Where to from here?
The current restrictions will likely be in place until the end of May.
Depending on how many new cases are identified during that time, restrictions may ease further in June.
Professor Sutton said the fact that the state is entering the colder winter months doesn’t change the risk substantially.
“The risk is there regardless,” he said.
“What we do understand through winter is with low humidity and colder temperatures that the survival of the virus on surfaces can be greater and so that’s one consideration that we need to bear in mind.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he would not be visiting his mum, even though it was legal to do so, because she has underlying health issues.(ABC News: Gemma Hall)
Mr Andrews said despite the new restrictions, people still needed to be driven by logic and common sense and only go out when they really need to.
“If you are doubting whether you ought to be doing it, don’t. That’s the simple message,” he said.
“This is not an invitation to be out every hour of every day or to be having friends over every lunch and every dinner. That’s not what this is about.”
He said if people abused the new regulations the virus would spread and the state would have fewer options in June.
“This is far from over,” he said.
“This is an opportunity for a first step that is safe, cautious and appropriate.”
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