The day the exhausted Victorians counted on has finally come.
More than 100 days after Melbourne was suspended again, restrictions in Melbourne will ease. And the government has also promised loose rules in the country.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has warned that the rules will not let up as much as hoped. However, the recent success in suppressing the numbers means “significant steps” are being taken.
Remind me. What was in the original roadmap?
According to the original plan, nothing should change in Melbourne today. The city was to remain on the “second stage” of the roadmap until October 26th.
However, when the number of cases fell faster than expected, the government set the date for the transition to the “third step”.
However, this was contingent on the state recording an average of fewer than five new daily cases and no more than five mysterious cases over a two-week period.
Those goals weren’t quite met – as of Saturday, the average daily case count was just over eight, and there were 17 mysterious cases in Melbourne.
The roadmap plan is no longer a reliable guide. But the original third step included:
- no more blocking – Raise orders for stay at homeso that people can leave the house for whatever reason
- Gatherings of up to 10 people in public outdoor areas
- Budget bubbleswhere Melburnians could create a social bubble with another household and allow five people from that household to visit their home
- sale, including hairdressing and some beauty services, reopening
- Cafes, restaurants and bars reopened, but mainly for Outdoor dining
- a staged return from contactless outdoors Sport for adults and both contact and non-contact sports for children
- Outdoor fitness Classes of up to 10 people
- up to 10 people Weddings and outdoor religious gatheringsand 20 at Funerals
Mr. Andrews says that not everything will happen now.
“We cannot just open all doors, get rid of all the rules and run normally towards COVID,” the prime minister said yesterday. “We have to do this safely and steadily.”
How does Victoria compare to others?
The old Melbourne-Sydney rivalry was repeated this week – mostly from Canberra.
Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt used Twitter yesterday to pressure Mr Andrews to put restrictions in place to conform to NSW, where the rules were further relaxed this week.
Starting Friday, up to 500 Sydneysiders can attend a concert, 300 can attend a corporate event and 150 can attend a wedding. Restaurants can welcome one person per two square meters.
In fact, NSW has consistently had higher daily case numbers than Victoria this week. But Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton pointed out yesterday that NSW’s 14-day average is about half that of Victoria’s.
The prime minister prefers international comparisons. He says that while Melburnians deserve the right to be optimistic about the summer, countries in the northern hemisphere that relaxed the rules too quickly are now entering a “deadly winter”.
“Look at France, look at England, look at all of the US,” he said this week. “They don’t get out of restrictions, they go into lockdowns.”
Will the 5-kilometer travel rule be abolished?
This is arguably the most discussed and controversial limitation left in Melbourne.
Restricting movement to within 3 miles of a person’s home has been criticized by the Victorian opposition and some experts who say it is disproportionate to the threat.
But the premier and chief health officer say it helped smooth the curve.
The latest survey on the subject shows that the remaining limitation is poorly supported.
A Roy Morgan SMS poll of 1,000+ Victorians this week found that nearly three-quarters wanted the restriction lifted.
On October 5, Professor Sutton said he was not sure whether the 5km limit would be lifted, but an extension to 10km was being considered.
On Thursday, Deputy Health Director Allen Cheng announced that a travel restriction of 20 km was being considered and modeling was being performed on that option.
If you’re wondering what that would mean for you, take a look at our map.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said “all these matters are under consideration” on Friday when asked whether the 5km rule would be abolished or changed.
But he added that the ban on domestic travel would definitely remain in place.
This is a departure from the original metropolitan Melbourne roadmap that should allow for domestic travel in this next step.
Will budget bubbles be allowed?
According to the city’s roadmap, the third step enables each household to form a “bubble” with another household that allows visits between the two houses.
We don’t yet know what bubble rules, if any, will be introduced.
The prime minister said this week that he was focusing on easing social rather than business restrictions.
“It’s much more social than economic,” he said at the press conference on Friday about the changes to come.
But he has also warned that socializing in private homes can be more dangerous than anywhere else because people often abandon their guards, remove their masks, and fail to practice social distancing.
What about hospitality and retail?
For the Melbourne hospitality industry, Mr Andrews is unlikely to announce any material changes.
Businesses only operated takeout or closed completely during the second lockdown.
But the prime minister gave business owners no hope on Friday.
When asked about cafes and restaurants, the Prime Minister said: “I have tried to make it very clear that it would not be safe for us to make such decisions.”
It is possible that some outdoor meals are allowed.
However, hospitality leaders have campaigned for cafes, restaurants and pubs with COVID-safe plans to reopen to indoor guests. Many companies cannot offer outdoor options and do not survive extended restrictions.
Many in retail are also advocating reopening – but Mr Andrews has said it may not be safe enough just yet.
Will anything change for regional Victoria?
The prime minister said Friday there would be changes to the restrictions that residents of regional Victoria live with.
“We have the opportunity to expand the attitudes in the regional Victoria as the numbers are very low and we have more to say on Sunday,” he said.
“Not all of the rules will be out of place … but there will be other safe steps we can take in many different areas in regional Victoria because it is a virus-free community.”
The Prime Minister said the “Ring of Steel” border between Melbourne and the regions will be strengthened to reduce the number of people traveling between the two areas.
This is also a departure from the original roadmaps, which listed further easing restrictions in regional Victoria only after the entire state had 14 days of no new cases.
It’s almost bushfire season. Will Melburnians be able to prepare their lands?
The Prime Minister has said there will be news on that front today.
“There will be rules,” he said. “There is no reason to travel outside the metropolis of Melbourne and de facto have a few days off.”
On Friday he said there would be a structured system with penalties for people who abuse the rules.
When do the new rules come into force?
That’s not clear, but it is expected that at least some changes will be implemented starting Monday, as planned in the roadmap.
And the prime minister has indicated that more changes could follow within a week or two.
“Tomorrow won’t be every step we hoped for tomorrow,” said Andrews yesterday.
“But we will have more to say about what the next weekend and the weekend after will be like. And people will have the ability to plan. “
The original roadmap was for Melbourne to move to the final step on November 23rd. This included outdoor gatherings of 50 people and up to 20 people in a home.
Retail, hospitality, domestic travel and some major events were also part of this final step before moving to “COVID Normal” with no new cases, no active cases and no interstate “worrying outbreaks” for 28 days.
And what if the numbers go up again? Could there be another ban?
This is what everyone is dying to avoid, but nothing is guaranteed.
“It is a perfectly legitimate question – what if three months go by and we have X cases in one day?” Said the prime minister yesterday. But he didn’t answer.
“This is not for today, this may not even be for tomorrow – but we’ll talk a little more about it over the next few weeks.”
He added that if outbreaks are detected, more people are likely to be kept in isolation – including secondary contacts, or “contacts from contacts”.
This should help prevent widespread lockdowns.
“These few hundred people [in isolation] In essence, allow hundreds of thousands of others to be open and go about their business, “said the prime minister.
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