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How Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions will be eased

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Melbourne will remain in a hard lockdown for at least a further two weeks as Premier Daniel Andrews reveals Victoria’s roadmap plan for easing restrictions.

Melbourne will remain under stage four lockdown for at least a further two weeks, while restrictions ease across the rest of Victoria from next week.

Premier Daniel Andrew confirmed Melbourne's extended coronavirus lockdown will come into effect at 11.59pm on September 13 and will remain in place until September 28.

However, minor easing of some restrictions will come into effect starting next Sunday.

LIVE UPDATES: Victoria records its lowest rate of coronavirus infections since July

These include extending the curfew start time to 9pm and increasing the limit on exercise from one hour to two.

coronavirus daniel andrews

A so-called "singles bubble" system will also be created, allowing people who live alone to nominate one person to visit.

The five-kilometre travelling rule will not apply to these bubbles but the 9pm curfew will.

RELATED: Road to recovery plans for Melbourne and regional Victoria: Key steps and dates

In outlining the changes, Mr Andrews described how difficult this decision had been as he warned of the dire consequences of opening up too soon.

"This is not a 50-50 choice," he told this afternoon's press conference.

"The modelling that Allen will speak to in a moment indicates that if we open up too fast then we have a very high likelihood – a very high likelihood – that we are not really opening up at all, we are just beginning a third wave.

"And we will be back in and out of restrictions come in and out of lockdown, before the end of the year – indeed, potentially well before the end of the year."

Coronavirus: Victoria records 63 cases and five deaths

Frustration and anger towards the Andrews government has been growing in Melbourne, with hundreds turning out to protest against lockdown measures yesterday.

Seventeen people were arrested by Victoria Police, with footage capturing people being dragged away by officers and masks forcibly placed over their faces.

Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said the state's COVID-19 numbers were dropping, but there were still too many cases in mid-September to "open up significantly".

"People may ask why can't we be like the New South Wales government - our friends in Sydney aren't in lockdown," Professor Cheng said.

"New South Wales are not in the same place. There haven't been more than 13 cases a day in New South Wales since early August. At 60 or 100 cases a day in Victoria, we are not even close."

He urged the community to "just hold on a little longer".

Restrictions to ease

Restrictions for Melbourne will be further eased from September 28, so long as coronavirus infections have reduced to between 30 to 50 daily cases before then.

This includes allowing up to five people from two different households to meet outdoors, the reopening of childcare and outdoor religious ceremonies with up to five people plus one faith leader.

There will also be a staged reopening of schools for students in Prep through to Year 2 and VCE/VCAL students in Term Four.

An additional 101,000 people are also expected to be able to return to work, including many in the construction sector.

"There are still some limits," Mr Andrews said, as he listed warehousing, postal services, the sort of distribution services and childcare as among the jobs to return.

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In contrast, gyms will remain closed until the final stage of reopening, Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton has said.

He said being indoors and the fact that people were exerting themselves made gyms a particularly high risk setting.

"Gyms cause outbreaks," he said.

"I know gyms are as keen to open as any industry and there are lots of mitigations you can try to put in place in terms of density measures and cleaning and screening, but they still cause outbreaks."

Plan for regional Victoria

In contrast, regional Victoria will see a much fast return to a "COVID normal", Mr Andrews said, with a return to stage two restrictions from 11.59pm on Saturday, September 13.

Under stage two, public gatherings of up to five people from a maximum of two households will be allowed.

All students will also be back in classrooms in Term Four.

Mr Andrews said regional Victoria was a step ahead of metropolitan Melbourne.

"They essentially moved to step two and then we will reassess based on total numbers over a 14-day period," he said.

"We think that regional Victoria will essentially be able to move to the third step quite soon. It will be, perhaps, a matter of weeks before regional Victoria can move to a very different range of settings compared to metropolitan Melbourne.

"That would mean more shops open, more people back at work, people still working from home in some instances, but relatively normal, certainly compared to the situation in metropolitan Melbourne will have to be in for a longer period of time."

Health authorities have 'close eye' on Geelong

Mr Andrews has warned the state government was keeping a watchful eye on the Greater Geelong corridor in regional Victoria, which continues to have an uptick of cases.

It is possible the regional city could be under a different set of rules if its COVID-19 cases to do not come under control.

"It is fair to say Geelong is on close watch and we will monitor the cases in the Geelong area as we have done for many weeks now. We may have to treat Geelong separately. I'm giving people fair warning of that."

Postcode lockdowns weren't as effective as hoped, CHO admits

It is unlikely Melbourne will return to geographical lockdowns in future, Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton has confirmed.

"I think it's going to be very difficult. What we have learned from postcode lockdowns is that people are networked beyond their postcodes, and if you see cases in a particular geography and you think it is just about the location, you are not understanding that there are networks of cohorts of people or groups within a population who go beyond those geographies," he said.

Professor Sutton said free movement between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will only come into effect once the two roadmaps out of lockdown align.

He also said the state would "reassess" the dates of easing of restrictions along the way.

"There is always a case for a different approach if we are doing better than is modelled better than we expect. I think we should always do that, as the premier said, not a day longer than is required. I think we take that approach, but we do it on the understanding we don't want to take chances here."

READ:  Melbourne's stage three lockdown: Your questions answered

Sewage testing reveals case in 'COVID-free' Victorian town

Mr Andrews confirmed sewerage testing at Apollo Bay in regional Victoria had detected at least one case of COVID-19, despite community testing showing no virus cases.

"There is virus down there - but there are no confirmed cases down there – none whatsoever.

"So, this is out there in the community at higher levels than the data will tell you because not everybody who has symptoms gets tested," he said.

READ MORE: Your restrictions and roadmap questions answered

Federal Government's statement on Victoria's roadmap

"Today's announcement from the Victorian Government to extend lockdown arrangements will be hard and crushing news for the people of Victoria, and a further reminder of the impact and costs that result from not being able to contain outbreaks of COVID 19, resulting in high rates of community transmission.

"It is vital to the national interest to restore Victoria to a COVIDSafe environment, where we can reopen our economy and reasonably restore the liberties of all Australians, whether in Victoria or anywhere else.

"The proposed roadmap will come at a further economic cost. While this needs to be weighed up against mitigating the risk of further community outbreak, it is also true that the continued restrictions will have further impact on the Victorian and national economy, in further job losses and loss of livelihoods, as well as impacting on mental health. 

"Of course the Federal Government would like to see restrictions in Victoria lifted as soon as it is safe to do so, but at the end of the day these are decisions solely for the Victorian Government to determine and the roadmap released today is a Victorian Government plan.

"The Commonwealth Government will now consider the Victorian modelling and settings that are being provided to our experts and officials, including our Chief Medical Officer, and await their advice before responding further."

- Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Health Minister Greg Hunt

Breakdown of roadmap for metropolitan Melbourne

First Step from 11.59pm, 13 September 2020 in metro Melbourne

Second Step from 28 September 2020 subject to public health advice and if average daily cases are 30-50 in metro Melbourne over previous 14 days.

Third Step from 26 October 2020 subject to public health advice and if daily average is less than five new cases (state-wide) and less than five cases from unknown sources over the previous 14 days (state-wide total).

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Last Step from 23 November 2020 subject to public health advice and if no new cases for previous 14 days

COVID Normal – starts when no new cases occur for 28 days plus no active cases (state-wide) and no outbreaks of concern in other States and Territories.

Breakdown of roadmap for regional Victoria

SECOND STEP (the first step applies to metropolitan Melbourne only)

From 11.59pm, 13 September 2020

THIRD STEP – when regional Victoria reaches less than 5 cases on average over 14 days and zero cases with unknown source over 14 days.

LAST STEP – from 23 November 2020 if no new cases for 14 days state-wide.

COVID Normal – starts when no new cases occur for 28 days plus no active cases (state-wide) and no outbreaks of concern in other States and Territories.

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google 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 1800512348For 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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