Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that residents will no longer need to wear masks outside as the state recorded no new cases of coronavirus or deaths for a 23rd straight day.
Andrews announced that from 11.59pm on Sunday residents will still need to carry masks, but will no longer be required to wear them at all times outdoors.
He also provided welcome news ahead of Christmas celebrations, with up to 30 people allowed to gather inside homes.
‘Masks have played a very important part in these low numbers,’ Mr Andrews said at a press conference on Sunday.
Gyms can re-open, sporting crowds will be allowed to return and up to 150 people will be permitted at pubs, cafes and restaurants.
The number of guests at weddings and funerals is also expected to increase to 150 people.
Up to 100 people will be allowed in pubs, cafes and restaurants in Victoria, with 200 people permitted outdoors under expected restriction easing
The restrictions set to ease:
– Public gatherings extended to 50 people
– Visitors Inside the home rises to 10
– Gyms allowed to have 100 people
– Sporting venues are permitted to have 25 per cent capacity
– No limit on outdoor pools
– Indoor pool can have up to 50 people
– Play centres can have 50 people with groups up to 20
– Weddings guests extended to 100 people
– Funeral guests extended to 100 people
– Church services and religious gathers set to see restrictions eased (but exact number remain unclear)
– Pubs, restaurants and cafes can have 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors
– Face masks will no longer be required outdoors
– Cinemas and theatres will be permitted to have 25 per cent capacity up to 100 people
– Galleries and museums will have restrictions on eased (but exact number remains unclear)
– Amusement parks and other indoor entertainment to re-open
– Casino and gaming room set to have restrictions eased (but exact number remains unclear)
– Real estate auctions will return
– Accommodation bookings like Airbnb will be permitted to have 10 people
– Outdoor tourism sites will re-open
– Indoor tourism sites will be able to have 25 per cent capacity up to 100 people
Melbourne only emerged from an 111-day lockdown at the end of last month, with Stage Four restrictions in place for most of that time.
Under Stage Four lockdown Melburnians were banned from travelling more than 5km from their home and only permitted to one hour of outdoor exercise per day.
Residents also had to adhere to a 9pm to 5am curfew and could only leave the home for essential shopping, medical appointments, work and study.
At the height of the months-long lockdown, daily new infections stretched beyond 700.
More than 800 Victorians, mainly living at the aged care facilities, also lost their lives during the crippling outbreak.
The second wave of cases which led to the shutdown stemmed from contamination breaches within the state’s hotel quarantine program for returned travellers.
But in two weeks time, Victoria will open its borders to international arrivals once again and reinstate a hotel quarantine program – although details are yet to be announced.
Pictured: Santa makes an early appearance at Bourke Street in Melbourne on November 12
Gatherings inside the home is expected to rise from 10 tomorrow, to 20 by Christmas Day – meaning Christmas lunch with family is back on (women is face coverings are seen at Melbourne’s St Kilda)
The state has not recorded a single case of COVID-19 in over three weeks and there is only one active case remaining in all of Victoria.
With the curve now flattened, pubs, cafes and restaurants which had been shut for months are expected to be allowed 100 indoors and 200 people outdoors.
Face masks are not believed to be required outdoors, but will remain mandatory indoors.
Cinemas and theatres will also re-open along with real estate auctions and children’s play centres.
Gyms are set to re-open in Melbourne after being shutdown for months due to COVID-19
Outdoor Public gatherings will be eased to 50 people from tomorrow, while 10 people will be permitted to in a home.
But before December 25, it’s expected at least 20 loved ones will be cleared to visit for Christmas lunch and other festive gatherings.
The sporting-mad state will also be able to go back into stadiums with large events cleared to have 25 per cent capacity.
Amusement parks like Lunar Park, and other indoor entertainment precincts will can re-open from this week, along casinos, gaming rooms, museums and art galleries.
Although the news is positive there is still some concern the virus could return after sewage water testing revealed fragments of the virus appearing in the Altona area – 13km south-west of the CBD.
The sporting-mad state will also be able to go back into stadiums with large events cleared to have 25 per cent capacity (pictured, the MCG)
The state’s Department of Health and Human Services said the result is unexpected given it has been about eight weeks since a anyone tested positive in the area.
Residents in the Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes area are now being urged to get tested immediately and monitor any symptoms – ‘no matter how mild.’
‘The result is unexpected given it has been about eight weeks since the last known resident in the area had a COVID-19 illness or diagnosis,’ the DHHS said.
‘It can take several weeks for someone to stop shedding the virus.’
Victoria has implemented an extensive wastewater testing strategy to detect any sign of the virus as early as possible.
Although the findings are a major concern, DHHS said positive wastewater test results does not necessarily mean there is an active infection in the area.
‘(It) may be due to someone with coronavirus being in the early active infectious phase or someone who is no longer infectious continuing to shed’ the virus,’ the department said on their website.
Residents in five suburbs of Melbourne ‘s west have been urged to get tested for coronavirus as fears grow of a third wave of infections (pictured, Melbourne residents are seen getting back to normal life after lockdown)
Sewage water testing revealed fragments of coronavirus springing up in the Altona area in Melbourne’s west (stock image)
Although it’s not clear where the wastewaster fragments in the Altona area may have originated, Victorian health authorities have been on high alert since an outbreak was detected in South Australia earlier this week.
More than 20 people linked to the Parafield cluster in Adelaide, have now tested positive.
‘Victoria’s temporary hard border closure with South Australia came into force at midnight last night,’ DHHS said.
‘It will be in place for 48 hours before a permit system comes into effect from 11.59pm on Saturday 21 November.’
The temporary border controls were implemented after the discovery of coronavirus fragments in wastewater taken from the Portland wastewater catchment near the South Australian and at Benalla, north of Melbourne.
Residents of Benalla and Portland as well as anyone who has visited those areas between 15 and 17 November are also being urged to get tested and isolate until they get their test result.
Face masks will not be required outdoors, but will remain mandatory indoors (pictured, St Kilda Beach in Melbourne)