Melbourne lockdown ends, but masks remain

By Our Reporter
Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne. Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino on Wednesday (9 June) announced that from 11:59pm Thursday, 10 June, the five reasons to leave home will no longer apply in metro Melbourne, and the existing 10-kilometre limit will be increased to 25 kilometres.

“On the advice of the Chief Health Officer, we can take some first safe steps. That means metropolitan Melbourne will move to almost the same settings currently in place across regional Victoria. And regional Victoria will move towards further easing,” Merlino said.

Requesting people to stay local wherever possible, Merlino said, the only reasons to go further than 25 km will be work, education, care and caregiving, and getting vaccinated. And travel into regional Victoria to visit family and friends or take a holiday still remains a no go—for now.

No visitors to homes, but outdoor gatherings will be increased to a maximum of ten people. And mask rules will be eased slightly—required inside, and outdoors when 1.5 metres isn’t possible.

In good news for families, schools will be able to resume face-to-face learning for all students from Friday , 11 June.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs will open—with strict safety measures like density limits, seated service and QR codes in place. Remaining retail will also open. Hairdressing, beauty and personal care can resume, but only for services where masks can be kept on.

Weddings will be limited to 10 people, and funerals no more than 50. Fifty will also be the limit on religious gatherings. Swimming pools, entertainment venues and community facilities will also open subject to density limits. And community sport can happen, but only for training.

Indoor sport, including gyms, will also be able to reopen with careful limits on the number of people permitted at any point in time.

“When it comes to work, there’ll no longer be a list—but if you can work from home, you should,” said Merlino.

However, even with eased restrictions, some businesses still won’t be able to open. Therefore, the government is extending support for closed businesses with a further $2000 top-up payment.

In regional Victoria, restrictions will also ease. Visitors to the home are allowed—limited to two people and their dependants—once per day. Public outdoor gatherings will be limited to 20 people.

Lauding Australians for the collective efforts over the past few weeks, the Acting Premier said, “Thanks doesn’t seem enough, but I’ll say it anyway. To every Victorian for following the rules, for doing the right thing, and for doing it with kindness and compassion—thank you.

“For staying home and staying safe. For ordering in and taking out. For Zoom calls and virtual catchups. And for looking out for each other.”

However, as much as we’ve achieved, this isn’t over, warned Merlino. “It’s up to all of us to protect this precious thing we’ve worked so hard for. That means staying COVIDSafe—most importantly, getting tested if you have any symptoms. It’s singlehandedly the biggest contribution we can make, ensuring that if the virus is circulating—we catch it early.  Whether you do it for your family, your mates or your state—if you’re sick, get tested.”

Subject to public health advice, the government will announce later what further stages of easing will look like next week. That includes the regional border coming down and Victorians being able to travel more freely around the state.

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