Victorians will be able to host up to five visitors in their homes and meet outdoors in groups of 10 from Wednesday, under the state’s first relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.
Key points:The relaxed restrictions will take effect from 11:59pm on TuesdayUnder the changes, “visiting family and friends” will become a fifth reason for Victorians to leave their homesVictorian students are likely to return to face-to-face learning before the end of term two
Under what Premier Daniel Andrews termed the first “safe, cautious and appropriate step” towards normality, Victorians will be able to go fishing, hiking, play golf and join walking groups, provided physical distancing is maintained.
The Government has also come to an agreed set of arrangements to allow professional sporting codes, including the AFL, to resume training from Wednesday, he said.
“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,” Mr Andrews said.
Community sports could also begin training again, provided they followed the 10-person limit, physical-distancing rules and basic hygiene, he said.
“If you are sharing equipment, you should try to minimise that,” he said.
“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.”
Weddings will now be able to have ten guests, while up to 20 people can attend funerals indoors, and up to 30 people can attend funerals held outdoors.
Up to 10 people will be allowed to join religious gatherings, plus the additional people required to run the service.
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The Premier said the Government was close to finalising a plan so that face-to-face learning could resume in Victorian schools before the end of term two.
Victorians are currently only allowed to leave their homes for work or education, shopping for essential supplies, exercise and medical and compassionate care.
Mr Andrews said the changes meant there would be a fifth reason for Victorians to leave their homes from Wednesday — visiting family and friends.
Victorians who can work from home must continue to work from home until the end of May, he said.
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Mr Andrews said while people would be allowed to host up to five visitors in their home from 11:59pm on Tuesday, it was important people understood it was not a return to normal.
“This is not an invitation to be out every hour of every day or to be having friends over every lunch and every dinner,” he said.
“That’s not what this is about. And if we all did that, then we will have less options in June because our testing program, the biggest in the country, will find many, many more positives because nothing will happen but spread the virus.
“This is about seeing those you need to, if you need to.”
Cafes, restaurants limited to takeaway orders until June
Mr Andrews said by keeping any social activity limited to family and friends, contact tracing would be easier in the event of an outbreak.
At both weddings and funerals a list of names and contact details would need to be kept to assist with contact tracing, he said.
The changes will be in place until the end of May.
Under the changes, up to 10 people are allowed to gather outdoors provided physical distancing is maintained.(ABC News: Billy Draper)
Mr Andrews said restaurants and cafes would continue to be restricted to takeaway business only, before all restrictions would be reviewed at the end of the month.
He said the feedback from hospitality businesses had been that opening with a restriction of 10 customers was not financially viable.
“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,” he said.
Victoria’s restaurants and bars will remain confined to takeaway services for the rest of May.(ABC News: Ron Ekkel)
He said while outdoor gatherings of 10 people or less would be allowed, camping overnight in national parks remained off limits.
Students back in classrooms before end of term two
Mr Andrews flagged a return to on-site learning in schools before the mid-year break, but said the Government was not yet ready to announce the details.
“We had for the purposes of certainty said to parents across the state that they should plan and assume that learning from home would continue for the entirety of term two,” 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’s not the day to announce the details.”
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The changes come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined a three-step plan agreed upon by the National Cabinet on Friday to move to a “COVID-safe economy” by July.
Each state and territory government is responsible for setting its own timetable for the plan, based on its local circumstances.
Mr Andrews said while the testing blitz of more than 161,000 Victorians had shown that the state’s numbers were stable, the virus was still spreading in the community and caution was required.
He said the blitz had shown up 30 cases which health authorities would have otherwise been unaware of.
“What that tells us is the virus is still with us, the virus is in the Victorian community,” he said.
Seven new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Victoria in the past 24 hours, including one case linked to the cluster at Cedar Meats Australia, an abattoir at Brooklyn in Melbourne’s west.
Four of the other cases were returned overseas travellers, while two were still being investigated.
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