Victoria's Lockdown Is Ending But New Restrictions Will Be in Place Until At Least February 26
You'll be able to leave the house for any reason you like — but you'll only be able to have five people over per day, and gather in groups of 20 in public.
In news that every Victorian has been waiting to hear, Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed that the state's five-day snap lockdown will come to an end at 11.59pm tonight, Wednesday, February 17. The city's residents will be allowed to leave their homes for more than just the familiar four reasons, and to travel more than five kilometres from their houses; however, with nine days still remaining as part of the usual 14-day COVID-19 incubation timeframe, some rules will stay in place for the near future.
The lockdown came into effect in a bid to contain Melbourne's Holiday Inn COVID-19 cluster, and has seen all of Victoria revert back to stage four restrictions since Friday, February 12. It proved a case of deja vu, after the state underwent two lockdowns in 2020. Thankfully, as at midnight on Tuesday, February 16, Victoria currently only has 25 active COVID-19 cases, and reported no new cases in the past 24 hours.
It's due to those low numbers that lockdown will finish, and that most restrictions will revert back to the conditions that were in place before the five-day stay-at-home period. Not all of them will, though. You'll only be able to have five visitors to your house per day, for instance, which is a reduction from 15 pre-lockdown. Outside gatherings in public will also be limited to 20 people.
These new rules will remain in place until at least Friday, February 26, and the Premier doesn't expect any other changes to occur between now and then. Masks will also remain compulsory everywhere indoors except at when you're at home — including at the supermarket, the office and at hospitality venues — and you'll also need to keep wearing them outside if you can't maintain social distancing.
Hospitality and retail businesses can reopen and welcome in customers, but there will be capacity and density limits. For restaurants, cafes, bars and eateries, the one person per two-square-metres rule will be in effect both indoors and outdoors, but only once 25 people are onsite. There's no requirement for seated service, though, and dancefloors are allowed — with one person per four-square-metres, up to a cap of 50 people. And, for shops, the one person per two-square-metres rule applies, with no other caps.
Entertainment venues will be back in action, too, but they'll have limits as well. Seated indoor venues, including cinemas, will have to max out at 50-percent capacity — up to a total of 300 people. Indoor non-seated venues such as galleries will have the same caps, as well as the one person per two-square-metres rule if they're using electronic record keeping to track attendees (and one person per four-square-metres otherwise). Both seated and non-seated outdoor venues will be able to welcome in 75-percent crowds, with the same rules on density and record keeping applying.
Weddings and funerals can occur with no attendee limits, but density quotas of one person per two-square-metres will be in effect if electronic record keeping is used to track attendees.
Indoor exercise, including at gyms, is back with the one person per four-square-metres rule applying, as well as class caps of 50 people.
And, in terms of heading to the office, workplaces will be able to have 50 percent of their employees onsite.
As always, the usual hygiene and social distancing practices remain in place, as does the request to get tested if you exhibit even minor COVID-19 symptoms.
All of Victoria will come out of stage four restrictions at 11.59pm on Wednesday, February 17. For more information about the rules moving forward, head to the Victorian Department of Health website.
Top image: Taquito by Julia Sansone.
Published on February 17, 2021 by Sarah Ward