The Victorian Government Has Clarified Rules Around How Far You Can Travel for Exercise
Instead of travelling across the city to hike and pickup takeaway coffee, the government is saying you should be visiting your closest park or cafe.
UPDATE: JULY 31, 2020 — It's now mandatory for residents of Mitchell Shire and metropolitan Melbourne to wear masks when they leave their homes for one of the four essential reasons. You can find out more here.
Stay at Home Directions were reintroduced for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire last week, following a continuous spike in daily totals of new COVID-19 cases. Now, the Victorian Government appears to have tightened — or at least clarified — restrictions on just how far people can venture to get their allowed daily exercise and takeaway coffee.
As with Victoria's original Stage 3 lockdown, this latest round of restrictions outlined only four reasons for people to leave their homes: for work or school (if not able to be done from home), for care or care giving, for daily exercise or for food and other essentials. During his initial announcement of the lockdown at a July 7 press conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews gave little detail about that exercise rule, simply telling people not to venture beyond the lockdown zone.
Now, the Department of Health and Human Services has cleared up some of the murky area surrounding the rule, adding a couple of new FAQ-type entries to its online Sport and Exercise fact sheet. One new inclusion is a response to the question, "My favourite walking track is on the other side of the city. Can I still go there?". The answer: "No. You should not travel further than you need to".
When pushed for a definitive rule, a government spokesperson told Concrete Playground, "The whole way through this, we've been very clear that Victorians must use their common sense and stay close to home. It doesn't matter if it's work or study, care, shopping or exercise — under Stage 3 restrictions in the past and now, you cannot travel further than you need to."
At a press conference this morning, Premier Andrews echoed this sentiment, telling Melburnians to stay close to home. "If you want to go for a walk then you can go for a walk close to home... If you are literally travelling 200-kilometre roundtrips, that will do nothing but spread the virus, stop. I am sure people would love to go to a more scenic location, a location that they spend time at normally, but this is not a normal winter."
The Premier's office also provided The Guardian with a series of responses to example question about leaving the house, with the overriding message being to stay close to home. Answers to questions about visiting dog parks, coffee shops and bottle-os all direct you to stick to your closest, rather than venturing to one in a different suburb just because you like it better. "I live in Fitzroy North — can I go to the bottle shop in South Melbourne because it has better gin?", for example, gets the answer, "You should go to the bottle shop closest to your home."
If you're caught breaking the rules, you could be slapped with an on-the-spot fines of $1652 — and, since lockdown began, more than 500 Melburnians have already been handed infringements.
Stay-at-home orders are in place for all of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. For more information, head to the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Published on July 17, 2020 by Libby Curran