As Victorians eagerly await details on the state’s roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions, Premier Daniel Andrews has given some hints about which rules might be eased first.
The government’s “reopening roadmap” will be revealed on Sunday, with Mr Andrews telling Victorians that having as much COVID-19 data as possible is “critically important” to finalising the plan.
While residents will have to wait five more days to see the full details of the reopening roadmap, Mr Andrews did mention some hints about some of the tough rules that could soon be dropped.
CAFES, RESTAURANTS AND PUBS
Speaking at Monday’s press conference, the Premier said as the state was moving into the warmer months, that provided more opportunities for how cafes, restaurants and pubs might be able to restart operations.
“When it comes to cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs, I think the improving weather and the part of the year we are moving into does give us some options that we simply didn’t have last time,” he said.
“More outdoor eating, more outdoor service … We’re looking at that very closely and we will be having very detailed discussions with that just as one example.”
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Under both the stage four lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne and stage three in regional Victoria these venues can only offer takeaway and delivery options.
The curfew in Melbourne also means that residents can only pick up food or drink orders between 5am and 8pm each day.
Some of the “key principles” will revolve around how businesses can reopen safely, with strict physical distancing, customer limits and hygiene rules enforced.
Businesses will also have to ensure staff wear a face covering at all times and regularly wash their hands.
Mr Andrews said continuing to act quickly when a staff member becomes unwell and ensuring they get tested, and follow self-isolation will be another crucial part of allowing businesses to welcome back customers.
VISITING FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Victorians hoping to be able to have large groups of family and friends over or attend major events may be waiting a while before those particular restrictions are rolled back.
Under current restrictions, residents can’t make any social visits to friends and family or have any social visitors to their homes.
While the way out of the lockdown might see these restrictions eased slightly – possibly with strict visitor limits put in place – it likely be a while before large group events or gatherings are permitted.
Mr Andrews said friends and families visiting each other at the start of the state’s second wave was a “massive contributor” to the fast rise in COVID-19 cases.
“As unpleasant as it is to have to forecast, it might be a while before you can have a barbecue with a large number of friends, or even family,” he said.
TRAVELLING FOR SCHOOL HOLIDAYS AND CHRISTMAS
Questions were raised in Monday’s press conference about whether families in metropolitan Melbourne might be able to travel to different parts of the state for the September school holidays.
But Mr Andrews seemed to dash any hopes of regional getaways, pointing to the vastly different split in COVID-19 case numbers between regional Victoria and Melbourne.
“We will jealously guard the low numbers in regional Victoria, and I think every regional Victorian would want us to do that,” he said.
As for Christmas, Mr Andrews said he wanted Victorians to have a Christmas Day “as close to normal as possible”.
“If we do this too quick, if we do this chasing something that might be popular for a few weeks, if we forget it’s a pandemic and think it’s a popularity contest, well, then Christmas won’t look normal at all,” he said.
“It will be very, very different Christmas Day. It will be up and down, in and out of different restrictions and different lockdowns, I don’t want that.”
The comments came after Mr Andrews said he could not “rule out” having to extend Melbourne’s stage four lockdown beyond the September 13 end date.
“It is very difficult to know what those settings will be. They have to be guided by the data, the science and the very best medical advice,” Mr Andrews said.
“If we were to open up with numbers anything like what we have had, even with a really positive trend, then those numbers will explode.”