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Sweeping changes to Victorian COVID-19 restrictions in time for Christmas

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Masks will no longer be required while social distancing outdoors and from December 13, up to 30 visitors will be allowed inside homes.

Christmas is back on for Victorians with a series of sweeping changes to the state's coronavirus restrictions after months in strict lockdown.

Starting from December 13, residents will be allowed to host Christmas parties and other gatherings inside their homes for up to 30 guests.

In a more immediate change, from 11.59pm tonight, masks will no longer have to be worn outdoors, as long as social distancing is maintained.

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Premier Daniel Andrews described how this would work in practice using a trip to Bunnings as an example.

"If you go to Bunnings and you are inside the store, you are wearing a mask," he said.

"If you are in the car park, you do not have to wear your mask, but if you are queueing up for a sausage, and you are with other people and you are simply not keeping a distance, you are part of a crowd, you need to put the mask on."

He said Victorians still needed to carry their mask with them at all times, as they would never know when they may need it.

Other measures to come into effect overnight include previously foreshadowed changes to hospitality venues, gyms, sports stadiums and places of worship.

READ MORE: Victoria records zero new cases, no deaths for 23rd day in a row

However, some of these went further than what had been outlined.

Large bars, pubs and restaurants will be able to host up to 200 people outside and 100 people indoors, so long as the four-square metre rule is maintained.

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However, in a win for small venues, this rule has been relaxed to two-square metres indoors with a cap of 50 people in total.

The changes to gatherings inside households have gone further than forecast, with up to 15 visitors allowed from tomorrow.

Dependents are included in this number except for infants under 12 months old.

Mr Andrews emphasised that this meant 15 people across a whole day, not at a single time.

The changes come as the state recorded its 23 day of zero new coronavirus cases and zero deaths.

Mr Andrews called the steps "a recognition of this precious thing that we have built".

"It (no coronavirus cases) is incredibly valuable but it is also fragile."

Speaking at this morning's press conference, Chief Health Office Professor Brett Sutton said he was "confident" that COVID-19 had been stamped out from the Victorian community.

"Elimination may or may not be the right word," he said.

"We're talking about no community transmission – I'm confident we are there now.

"We have not got into the epidemiological threshold of 28 days yet but I'm confident we will get to that."

However, he warned against complacency, saying that the situation in South Australia demonstrated how outbreaks could continue to occur.

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App StoreGoogle Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians. Visit the site here or call 1800512348

For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News

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