Victoria has announced its road map out of coronavirus restrictions, making it the last Australian jurisdiction to do so.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed seven new cases in the state and said from tomorrow restrictions would begin to be eased.
He noted that throughout the pandemic, there have been four reasons Victorians can leave their home – shopping for essentials, medical or compassionate care, exercise, and work or study where it’s not possible to work from home.
Now, he says Victoria is adding a fifth reason – visiting family and friends.
“We’ve said there are four reasons to leave your home. We are adding a reason. We are adding a fifth reason and we are changing one of those four reasons,” he said.
“Essentially, from 11:59pm tomorrow night, Victorians will be able to have five guests to their home. They should be family and friends – after all, they are the people that mean the most to us and that’s where it’s hurt, people not being able to connect with the people that are most important to them.
“So, from just before midnight tomorrow night, until the end of May… you can have five family (members) or friends coming to your home.”
Groups of 10 will also be allowed to be together in public places and play sport.
Weddings can have up to 10 guests and 20 people will be permitted to attend funerals indoors, increasing to 30 if the service is held outside.
The Premier said the state would start moving through stage one but urged Victorians to keep working from home if they could.
“On work, I would ask and encourage people, if you can work from home, you must work from home, for the rest of May,” he said.
“Sports activities, recreational activities. Whether it be hiking, fishing, playing golf, going for a walk, kicking a footy – no more than 10 and there will be obviously physical distancing and hygiene arrangements, common sense.
“The rules that have been in place to this point remain in place. There are some further changes to funerals, to weddings, to auction houses, to real estate auctions, to religious observance, small private prayer, other similar services – not a full mass, not a full service – but some very discreet, we think, appropriate changes there.”
Mr Andrews also said the state would look at a “gradual” return to schools.
“We now believe that a gradual, staged return to face-to-face learning is safe, cautious and appropriate, given the testing we’ve done and the circumstances we face,” he said.
“Today’s not the day to announce the details. I don’t want to make announcements and then not be able to answer all the questions that you rightly be put to me. That will be done soon. We will give parents lots of notice. That’s what they have asked for.”
Mr Andrews said the state was “close” to finalising its plan on a return to face-to-face learning.
But Victorians hoping to go camping, spend the night in an Airbnb or hotel, and visit restaurants or pubs will be waiting until at least June.
“If you think about cafes and restaurants – my thinking here is that if we wait these three weeks, when we move to open, go beyond just takeaway, for cafes, we might not have to stick with the number of 10,” he said.
“We might be able to go higher. I won’t speculate on what that number is. I think the feedback from many businesses is that at just 10 patrons, it’s hard to be viable.
“If we wait three weeks, if we do the testing, have that further assurance, that the significant steps we took today isn’t causing us trouble, that we can’t manage, then I think we can take a bigger step potentially in June for cafes and restaurants and get them to a point where they are viable.
“Their business model has changed. I think takeaway will be a feature for a long time. If we can supplement and complement that with table service at more than 10, there’s every chance for a more viable model. That’s our thinking.
“Assume the rules don’t change any time in the next three weeks and we will have more to say in full detail once we get to the point where we make decisions for June.”