Regional Victorians currently living under stage 3 restrictions will see some conditions lifted as soon as next Sunday.
The State Government’s roadmap out of restrictions includes four steps Victorians must take before reaching a “COVID Normal” when a low case threshold is met.
However, regional Victorians will be able to skip the first step, which applies to Metropolitan Melbourne, and jump straight into the second phase from midnight next Sunday.
Here’s what that will involve.
Second step: public gatherings and some visitors allowed
From 11:59pm on September 13, regional Victoria will jump straight into a slightly relaxed version of stage 3 restrictions.
Schools will start returning to onsite learning for all students in term 4, with some safety measures in place.
Public gatherings of up to five people from up to two households will be allowed, and babies under 12 months old are not counted in that limit.
Outdoor religious gatherings of up to five people one one faith leader will also be allowed.
A “single social bubble” will also be created, allowing people who live alone to nominate one person they can visit or who can visit their home.
Outdoor playgrounds and outdoor pools will be allowed to open.
However, many restrictions will stay the same.
There will still only be four essential reasons to leave the home: education or work if it cannot be done from home, exercise, getting essential supplies and providing or receiving necessary care.
Restrictions on the numbers of people who can attend weddings and funerals will remain.
Third step: No restrictions on leaving home
Regional Victoria will be allowed to move into the next phase when it meets two conditions:
- a 14-day average of fewer than five new cases per day
- zero cases with an unknown source over 14 days
When it enters this next phase there will be no restrictions on reasons to leave the home, but people will be encouraged to “stay safe”.
Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather outdoors and a “household bubble” allowing up to five visitors from another home will be permitted.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to seat patrons for the first time in weeks, as long as it is outdoors and there is a 10-person limit on groups.
Private real estate inspections will be allowed again, but by appointment only. Real estate auctions in person will also be allowed to start up again, but they must be outdoors and will be subject to gathering limits.
Intrastate travel will be allowed for people across regional Victoria.
Some outdoor events will also be able to go ahead, subject to pre-approved plans.
Last step: The final phase before ‘COVID normal’
The trigger point to lift restrictions even further in regional Victoria will be November 23 or zero new cases recorded for 14 days statewide — whichever comes later.
When this happens, the limit on public gatherings will expand to 50 people outdoors and households will be allowed to have up to 20 visitors.
Adult education will be allowed to return to onsite learning as long as safety measures are in place.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to host patrons indoors, with a group limit of 20 people and a total cap of 50.
Real estate will be able to operate per normal again, with safety measures and record-keeping in place.
The limit on guests allowed at weddings and funerals will also grow to 50 people, or 20 people if the event is held at someone’s home.
COVID normal: Returning to work and gathering limits lifted
Regional Victoria will be able to move to “COVID normal” when these conditions are met:
- the state records zero new cases for 28 days
- there are no active cases in the state
- there are “no outbreaks of concern in other states or territories”
When this happens, there will be no restrictions on public gatherings, visitors, hospitality venues or events for the first time in months.
Event organisers and venues will be encouraged to keep records of attendees, as well as people organising weddings, funerals and religious gatherings.
People who were required to work from home will be allowed to return to onsite work.