Melbourne residents fled the city in droves on Friday evening for the first weekend since the “ring of steel” keeping them within the metro area was lifted.
The Channel 7 News helicopter captured the slow-moving line of traffic making its way into regional Victoria about 6pm on Friday.
The footage showed city residents grabbing the opportunity for a weekend away after being stuck in their homes for months.
Victorians had been subject to a ban on travelling more than 25 kilometres from their homes, and a five kilometre ban before that.
There was also a general ban on Melbourne residents going into regional Victoria without an approved reason.
But the “ring of steel” was lifted on Monday.
Residents were clearly seizing the opportunity to get some fresh country air as they flocked to the regions for the weekend.
Channel 7 journalist Laurel Irving commented the heavy traffic was an unusually welcome sight.
“This is something we haven’t seen for a long time — a Friday night traffic jam,” she said.
“There is a long line of Melburnians looking to escape the city and head to regional Victoria for a couple of days.
“We don’t normally welcome this kind of traffic but in this case it is a sign of a big step back towards normal life.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday the ring of steel lifting meant “Victorians will be able to make up for lost time with loved ones”.
“Nothing about this year has been easy,” he said.
“But the hardest thing of all has been missing the people we love most.
“Collectively, we’ve missed the big moments and the small.
“But we did it. Because staying apart meant keeping each other safe.
“Because of that sacrifice, our state can be whole again.
“Families will be whole again too.”
More restrictions in Victoria are scheduled to lift next Sunday, November 22.