REGIONAL Victoria will enter step two of the COVID-19 reopening roadmap at 11.59pm on 13 September which will see stage three restrictions relax slightly.
There will still only be four reasons to leave home; school or work (if these can not be done from home), care or caregiving, to purchase essentials or exercise, but the restrictions and limitations around these activities will be eased.
From midnight Sunday, up to five people from two different households will be able to meet outdoors in a public space for social interaction.
Children up to 12 months old are not included as one of the five people gathering.
A public space includes parks or gardens and picnics are allowed, but meeting in the backyard of a private property will still not be permitted.
People living alone or as a single parent will be able to have a “single person bubble” where they are allowed to have one nominated person that they can visit or that can visit them.
Premier Daniel Andrews described this as being similar to the intimate partners exemption where couples from different households are allowed to visit each other.
All social interactions with people from a different household must continue to adhere to social distancing and mask wearing rules.
Schools will transition back to onsite learning for term four and will include all year levels.
The return will be staged and safety measures will be put in place. Childcare will also be open.
Outdoor recreation and exercise will continue to be permitted.
Pools and playgrounds will be opened while skate parks will remain shut.
Social distancing will need to be upheld and density requirements will limit the number of people allowed in pools and the amount of people per lane. Changing rooms at pools will remain closed.
Hospitality, retail, real estate
Restaurants and cafes will still only be able to provide take-away and delivery options.
Density requirements will remain in place for retail and hairdressing services.
In the real estate industry, private inspections will be allowed but auctions will remain online.
Ceremonies and special occasions
Weddings are permitted to have five participants which will include the couple, the celebrant and two witnesses.
Funerals can have up to 10 people attend and this number does not include infants under 12 months old.
Places of worship will remain closed but outdoor gatherings of up to five people, plus one faith leader, proximate to a place of worship, are allowed.
Travel, even within Victoria, will not be allowed and all entertainment venues will remain closed.
The next step
According to Chief Health Minister Brett Sutton, if regional Victoria continues on its current trajectory of low case numbers, moving to stage three might not be far away.
Regional Victoria will be able to move to step three of the roadmap when the daily average number of cases is less than five and there are zero cases with an unknown source in the last 14 days.
This will need to be consistent across all of regional Victoria for step three to occur.
Professor Sutton said, “We are now looking at two, three, four cases per day in regional Victoria.”
“So they are kind of on the setting where, if the next fortnight continues to improve, they will meet that threshold,” he said.
Step three includes no restrictions on leaving home and outdoor public gatherings with up to 10 people.
Visitors in the home will be allowed through a “household bubble”, which enables up to five people from a nominated household to visit a home.
Hospitality will open for predominantly outdoor seated service only and nearly all retail will be open.
Outdoor and sport for people under 18 will be allowed regardless of whether it is contact or non-contact.
Adults over 18 will only be allowed to participate in outdoor non-contact sport.
Skateparks will open and group fitness will be available outdoors for up to 10 people at a time.
Weddings will be allowed to have 10 people in attendance while funerals will increase to 20.
Travel within Victoria will be permitted and outdoor entertainment venues will be able to operate.
The fourth step
The final step towards “COVID normal” will only be available after 23 November and when all of Victoria has no new cases of COVID-19 in 14 days.
Social gatherings in and out of the home will increase, as will the number of people able to attend ceremonies such as funerals and weddings.
Dining in at restaurants and cafes will be able to occur indoors with maximum groups of 20 and only 50 patrons at the venue.
Public worship can occur indoors as well as outdoors following density requirements.
Sport for all ages will be permitted again and facilities will reopen as long as they are in line with density requirements.
Inter-state travel will be allowed and accommodation services will be in operation again. Entertainment venues will be open for indoor and outdoor events subject to density requirements.
When Victoria has no cases of COVID-19 recorded in 28 days, there are no active cases across the state and there are “no outbreaks of concern in other states or territories”, restrictions will be reduced dramatically.
Notably, there will be no limits on the number of people who can attend public gatherings, visit other homes or attend hospitality or entertainment venues.
People who have been working from home will also be able to return to their place of work.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that it is important that people do not get complacent as the state begins the process of moving towards “COVID normal” and that each step will be subject to a public health review.