Melbourne’s COVID restrictions are set to be eased this Friday, June 18, with the 25km travel radius for Melburnians to be scrapped and restrictions on gatherings, masks, and hospitality to be loosened.
From 11.59pm on Thursday, the restrictions that were put in place to deal with the COVID outbreak across the state will be reigned back.
Regional Victoria has already been enjoying the lax restrictions, but metropolitan Melbourne still has a ban on gatherings, a 25-kilometre travel limit for residents, and mandatory mask-wearing.
Acting Premier James Merlino held a much-anticipated press conference this afternoon in which he announced that the “state can come back together”.
There had been suggestions that the five new cases of community transmission associated with the Southbank apartment complex might throw a spanner in the works of lifting restrictions, however, those numbers appear not to be enough of a concern to stop the easing.
The 25-kilometre travel radius will be eliminated entirely and residents will only be required to wear masks outdoors when they cannot social distance. Masks will still need to be worn indoors and on public transport for the time being.
Residents can now have people over to their homes, but the numbers will be capped at two visitors a day, including dependents and family members. Public gatherings will be allowed under the new rules, with a maximum capacity of 20 people.
Hospitality venues including cafes, restaurants, and pubs will be allowed to serve 25 people indoors at a time before needing to apply for a density exemption. Funerals will now be allowed to have 75 attendants while weddings can host 20 guests.
Offices can operate from Friday with a 50% capacity limit, although Acting Premier Merlino encouraged people to work from home if possible.
Residents in regional Victoria will have restrictions lifted even further from Friday.
Home visits will be increased to five people per day, while outdoor gathers can have a maximum of 50.
Regional restaurants and cafes can host up to 300 seated people, depending on the size of the venue, and smaller hospitality venues will be allowed 25 customers at a time before needing to apply for a density quota.
Funerals in regional areas can have 100 attendants while weddings can have 50 guests.
These rules apply to the individual, meaning that a Melburnian getting married in regional Victoria can have only 50 people, up from the 20 allowed in the metropolitan area.
Offices in regional areas can operate from Friday at 75% capacity as well.
“We want to keep regional Victoria free of this virus, which is why the public team have recommended stronger settings for Metropolitan Melbourne as extra protection as we run down these remaining cases,” Merlino said.
“For example, for Melburnians travelling to the snow at this season, a requirement for everyone to get a COVID test within 72 hours of departing for Victoria’s Alpine resorts.”
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said “a single case infectious on the mountain would be a potential super spreader event.”
The new restrictions will be in place for the next seven days and will be reviewed by the health team on a daily basis.
“Subject to case numbers, exposure sites, and always on the advice of public health I expect we will be back here in one week to make further announcements about easing of restrictions,” Merlino said.