Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that residents will no longer need to wear masks outside as the state recorded no new cases of coronavirus or deaths for a 23rd straight day.
Mr Andrews announced that from 11.59pm on Sunday residents will still need to carry masks, but will no longer be required to wear them at all times outdoors.
‘Masks have played a very important part in these low numbers,’ Mr Andrews said at a press conference on Sunday.
He also provided welcome news ahead of Christmas celebrations.
Up to 15 people will be allowed to gather inside homes until December 13 when that number will increase to 30 people, just in time for Christmas Day.
He said the person limits are the maximum allowed inside a home in one day, and includes all dependents apart from babies under the age of one.
‘That is 30 across the course of a day. That is not 30 for lunch and 30 for dinner, it is 30 across the course of the day.’
Gyms will also re-open further with 150 people allowed inside and sporting crowds will be allowed to return with groups of 300 people allowed outside.
The number of guests at weddings and funerals is also expected to increase to 150 people, unless an event is held inside a home in which case a maximum of 15 people will apply.
Hospitality venues hit hard by the world’s toughest lockdown will also be able to host 100 people inside and 300 people outside, spaced 4sq/m apart.
Smaller venues will be allowed to space patrons 2sq/m apart, with a maximum of people people inside at one time.
Mr Andrews thanked Victorians for their cooperation and efforts, as the state slowly moves out of lockdown.
‘Each of us is playing our part to make sure that we protect public health, that we value and protect this precious thing that we have built.’
He said the relaxed restrictions are ‘recognition of this precious thing that we have built’.
‘It’s incredibly valuable, but it is fragile … this virus is not gone.’
Victorian restrictions easing, as of 11.59pm on Sunday:
– Public gatherings, including beaches and parks, has extended to 50 people
– Visitors Inside the home rises to 15
– Gyms allowed to have 150 people
– Sporting venues are permitted to have 25 per cent capacity
– Limits of 300 people at outdoor pools
– Indoor pool can have up to 150 people
– Weddings guests extended to 150 people
– Funeral guests extended to 150 people
– On-campus university classes will also be allowed to resume
– Church services and religious gathers set to see restrictions eased to 150 people indoors and 300 people outdoors
– Pubs, restaurants and cafes can have 100 people indoors and 300 outdoors
– Face masks will no longer be required outdoors unless social distancing can’t be avoided, such as in outdoor queues, but residents will have to carry them around
– Cinemas and theatres will be permitted to have 25 per cent capacity up to 150 people
– Galleries and museums will have restrictions to 25 per cent capacity, with smaller venues capped at 150 people
– Amusement parks and other indoor entertainment to re-open with a maximum of 300 people outside and 150 people inside
– Casino and gaming room set to have restrictions eased, with a maximum of 150 people allowed inside. Every second pokie machine will be turned off to cater to social distancing
– Accommodation bookings like Airbnb will be permitted to have up to 15 people
– Indoor tourism sites will be able to have 25 per cent capacity up to 150 people
FROM MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30
– Up to 25 per cent of staff able to return to office workplaces
FROM 11.59PM SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13
– 30 people allowed over to visit homes for festive gatherings including Christmas
Melbourne only emerged from an 111-day lockdown at the end of last month, with Stage Four restrictions in place for most of that time.
Under Stage Four lockdown Melburnians were banned from travelling more than 5km from their home and only permitted to one hour of outdoor exercise per day.
Residents also had to adhere to a 9pm to 5am curfew and could only leave the home for essential shopping, medical appointments, work and study.
At the height of the months-long lockdown, daily new infections stretched beyond 700.
More than 800 Victorians, mainly living at the aged care facilities, also lost their lives during the crippling outbreak.
The second wave of cases which led to the shutdown stemmed from contamination breaches within the state’s hotel quarantine program for returned travellers.
But in two weeks time, Victoria will open its borders to international arrivals once again and reinstate a hotel quarantine program – although details are yet to be announced.
The sporting-mad state will also be able to go back into stadiums with large events cleared to have 25 per cent capacity.
Amusement parks like Lunar Park, and other indoor entertainment precincts will can re-open from this week, along casinos, gaming rooms, museums and art galleries.
Although the news is positive there is still some concern the virus could return after sewage water testing revealed fragments of the virus appearing in the Altona area – 13km south-west of the CBD.
The state’s Department of Health and Human Services said the result is unexpected given it has been about eight weeks since a anyone tested positive in the area.
Residents in the Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes area are now being urged to get tested immediately and monitor any symptoms – ‘no matter how mild.’
‘The result is unexpected given it has been about eight weeks since the last known resident in the area had a COVID-19 illness or diagnosis,’ the DHHS said.
‘It can take several weeks for someone to stop shedding the virus.’
Victoria has implemented an extensive wastewater testing strategy to detect any sign of the virus as early as possible.
Although the findings are a major concern, DHHS said positive wastewater test results does not necessarily mean there is an active infection in the area.
‘(It) may be due to someone with coronavirus being in the early active infectious phase or someone who is no longer infectious continuing to shed’ the virus,’ the department said on their website.
Although it’s not clear where the wastewaster fragments in the Altona area may have originated, Victorian health authorities have been on high alert since an outbreak was detected in South Australia earlier this week.
More than 20 people linked to the Parafield cluster in Adelaide, have now tested positive.
‘Victoria’s temporary hard border closure with South Australia came into force at midnight last night,’ DHHS said.
‘It will be in place for 48 hours before a permit system comes into effect from 11.59pm on Saturday 21 November.’
The temporary border controls were implemented after the discovery of coronavirus fragments in wastewater taken from the Portland wastewater catchment near the South Australian and at Benalla, north of Melbourne.
Residents of Benalla and Portland as well as anyone who has visited those areas between 15 and 17 November are also being urged to get tested and isolate until they get their test result.