Melbourne will remain under coronavirus lockdown until at least October 26 but some restrictions will be eased from midnight next Sunday.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has outlined a four-step plan for the state to return to normality if case numbers continue to fall.
From September 14, the nightly curfew will start an hour later at 9pm and run until 5am.
People living alone can nominate a friend or family member who can visit them and two hours of daily exercise will be allowed, including ‘social interactions’ such as having a picnic at a local park or reading a book at the beach.
Further restrictions could be eased from September 28 and the government will consider lifting the curfew entirely from October 26, depending on case numbers.
‘We can’t run out of lockdown. We have to take steady and safe steps out of lockdown to find that COVID normal,’ Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
Under Mr Andrews’ roadmap out of lockdown, residents will have to wait until November 23 for all retail stores to reopen.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the tough restrictions will be extended from 11.59pm on September 13 for an extra 14 days
From September 28, subject to public health advice, public gatherings will increased to five people from two households
From September 28, up to five people from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors for social interaction and the curfew will be eased to 9pm to 5am.
Childcare centres will be allowed to reopen without permits and workers across construction and manufacturing can return to their jobs, along with landscape and maintenance workers who operate alone.
Public outdoor gatherings of two people will also be allowed and playgrounds can reopen from next Sunday.
Exercise will be increased from one permitted hour per day to two.
Masks will remain compulsory
Mr Andrews ruled masks will remain compulsory and said he has a ‘pretty conservative view’ on the effectiveness of masks.
‘There is a likelihood that at a point in the future we don’t need to have compulsory masks or we alter the settings in which you need to use them,’ he said.
‘Yes, it’s a pain, no-one enjoys it. But compared to being locked at home, compared to people becoming gravely ill or becoming ill and not being able to shake this, and that is presenting in lots of people these days, think masks are we should continue to do.
‘We will follow advice, of course, but I have been pretty conservative view on masks.’
Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’.
The five kilometre radius rule will not apply for those people, but the curfew hours still do.
People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention).
The move to ‘second step’ restrictions from September 28 will only happen if there is an average daily case rate of 30 to 50 cases in metropolitan Melbourne over the previous 14 days.
Public gatherings will be expanded to five people from two households.
Schools will begin a staggered return to the classroom. Students from Prep, Grade One, Grade Two, VCE, VCAL and specialist schools will return first.
Prep to grade two students in Melbourne will return to classrooms from October 12 and all regional students will return in the same week.
Childcare facilities can also reopen.
Outdoor pools and outdoor personal training with two people and one trainer will be permitted under the second step of the roadmap.
Melburnians will be freed from the lockdown from October 26 if the average number of new cases falls below five and there are less than five unknown source cases.
The curfew would be scrapped altogether, and there would be no restrictions on leaving home. The five-kilometre radius rule will no longer exist.
This means that there will be no restrictions on reasons to leave home.
Along with the curfew being removed, up to 10 people will be allowed to gather outdoors and up to five visitors will be allowed from a nominated household.
Retail and hairdressing will reopen, while hospitality can resume trading with a focus on outdoor seated service.
Two hours of daily exercise will be allowed, including ‘social interactions’ such as having a picnic at a local park or reading a book at the beach
Gatherings of up to 50 people outdoors and up to 20 visitors to homes will be allowed under step four, which will come into effect on November 23 if Victoria goes 14 days with no new cases
The future of the Spring Racing Carnival
Mr Andrews said he wouldn’t ‘rule it out’ but didn’t want to speculate on the chances of the Melbourne Cup going ahead.
‘The events will still go on but the question is will there be people there on-site watching it? And that will be to the extent that is safe,’ he said on Sunday.
Mr Andrews said ‘one day at the races for 5000 people or 25,000 people’ was not worth potentially plunging the state into a third wave.
‘As much as I respect the contribution that sector makes, we have to do it safe so that again, 2021 looks much more like a normal 2021 and does not have all of these hangovers of restrictions on, restrictions off.
‘That is just no way, that is no way for us to spend next year.’
The last step will come into effect from November 23, if Victoria goes 14 days with no new cases, allowing public gatherings of up to 50 people and 20 home visitors at a time.
All remaining restrictions will be removed when Victoria goes 28 days with no new cases.
Gatherings of up to 50 people outdoors and up to 20 visitors to homes will be allowed.
Mr Andrews said all retail and hospitality will be open, and indoor groups with a limit of 20 people with seated service, a 50 more broadly will be permitted.
Mr Andrews stressed the importance of easing slowly into normal life to avoid a dreaded third wave.
‘We can’t run out of lockdown. We have to take steady and safe steps out of lockdown to find that COVID normal,’ he said.
‘If we open up too fast then we have a very high likelihood that we are not really opening up at all.
‘We would all like to open up as quickly as possible. We would all like to find that COVID normal or go back to actual normal as soon as possible.
‘But that is not the nature of this virus. It is wicked in many ways.’
Victorians were warned earlier on Sunday that daily coronavirus cases might not be low enough by mid-September, raising the prospect of more months under lockdown.
Public outdoor gatherings of two people will also be allowed and playgrounds can reopen from next Sunday
Melbourne ‘s tough stage four restrictions have been extended by another two weeks, while the city’s lockdown won’t be fully lifted until November 23
University of Melbourne modelling says based on current levels of social distancing, the 14-day case average was likely to be around 63 cases by September 17.
‘With so many cases in the community, re-opening at this point will risk a resurgence, undoing all of the gains achieved from lockdown,’ the modelling released by the state government overnight on Saturday concluded.
If that happened, restrictions could be ‘reimposed and last much longer’.
‘Keeping Stage 4 restrictions until case numbers are low enough to safely reopen will enable all Victorians to get back to COVID-normal, faster,’ the modelling said.
On Friday, Victoria’s 14-day case average was 116.
On Sunday, it recorded 63 new cases and five more deaths.
This takes the state’s total fatalities to 666 and the national death toll to 753.
VICTORIA’S ROADMAP OUT OF THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO AND WHEN:
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced his roadmap out of the strict COVID-19 lockdown restrictions currently in place throughout Victoria
Step one: The first step will come in to place on September 13.
Step two: The second step will be implemented when Melbourne has 30-50 COVID-19 cases a day on average over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on September 28.
Step three: The move to step three will occur when there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on October 26.
Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23
COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal.
Step one – 11.59pm on September 13:
– Curfew will be eased to 9pm-5am
– People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)
– Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours
– Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’
– Childcare and early educators to remain closed
– Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption
– Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry
– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only
– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect
– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping
Step two – September 28:
– Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households
– Childcare and early educators can re-open
– Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4
– There will be an increase to permitted workplaces
Step three – October 26:
– Curfew is no longer in place
– There are no restrictions on leaving home
– Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors
– A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another
– Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite
– Work from home is encouraged
– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor
– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed
– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment
– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked
Step four – November 23:
– Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors
– Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time
– All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place
– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue
– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants
Step five – COVID normal:
– Public gatherings have no restriction
– There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes
– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers
– Schools to reopen as normal
– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records