The Victorian Government has announced that lockdown restrictions are being eased in Melbourne and in rural areas on Friday, just in time for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
While lockdown hasn’t totally been lifted, most of the heavier restrictions such as the five reasons to leave home are finally gone.
“Everyone should be absolutely proud of what we have all achieved together,” acting Premier James Merlino said at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
“But we know this isn’t over yet, and until we have widespread vaccination across Victoria and across our country, the virus will still be with us.”
He also announced that QR codes will soon be rolled out at all workplaces for employees to check in, similar to a diner checking in at a restaurant.
Given the rumours and leaks of this week, it’s not a surprise to hear that restrictions are being eased.
Merlino himself noted that “we always said that we could carefully ease the rules where we can,” but it’s nice to finally have confirmation of what people can and can’t do at the end of the week.
Here’s what’s being eased in Melbourne as of this Friday:
Can I leave the house?
The five reasons to leave home no longer apply, so you can go out for whatever reason you want.
On top of that, the 10km travel limit has been increased to 25km, which is enough to cover the bulk of Melbourne.
What’s the go with face masks?
Face masks are still compulsory indoors.
Cafés and restaurants will be allowed to open for seated service with up to 50 people indoors, and a total of 100 people if you include outdoor areas.
Non-essential shops will be able to open up again so long as they have one person per four square metres.
Salons and the like can also open as long as masks can still be worn.
Meanwhile, community sport can also return to training and for school students, in-person learning will also resume.
What the go with offices?
Offices will be able to return with either up to 10 workers, or up to a quarter of the workforce – whichever is greater.
That means if you work in a tiny office, up to 10 of you can come in to work. For medium and large offices, a quarter of people can come in on any given day.
The biggest change for offices (as well as all other workplaces) is that QR codes will eventually be rolled out for staff to check in, though this is expected to come a little later.
Wait… more QR codes?
Yep, all employees will soon have to check in using QR codes too.
“On the advice of the Chief Health Officer, we will be moving to make QR check-ins compulsory for all workplaces, with very limited exemptions,” Merlino said.
“Previously it has only been mandatory for customer facing services, but through this outbreak we have seen a number of cases occur in office settings, so we want to take the next step on this.”
This won’t come into play on Friday, but expect to hear more announcements about how QR codes will be rolled out for staff in the coming days.
Can I have mates over?
The answer to this is unfortunately still no.
People in Melbourne still aren’t allowed to have any guests over at their house, even under the eased restrictions.
What about public gatherings?
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed.
Weddings are also capped at 10 people, while funerals can have up to 50 people.
“That is a recognition that the imperative of a wedding is not the same as it is for people who are needing to attend a funeral,” Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
He added that if possible, it’s probably better for everyone if people hold off on having weddings right this second.
Additionally, religious services can also be held with a maximum of 50 people.
What restrictions are being eased in regional Victoria?
Lockdown restrictions in regional Victoria are getting eased even further come Friday.
Perhaps most importantly, the 25km travel limit doesn’t apply outside of Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the guest limit at home has been increased to two adults per day, plus their dependents.
Public gatherings of up to 20 people can take place.
Cafés and restaurants will be allowed to serve up to 75 people indoors, and up to 150 in total, including outdoor areas.
Offices will also be capped at half capacity, while weddings, funerals and religious services will also be allowed to increase in size.
Congrats everyone. From Melbourne to the countryside, everyone’s earned themselves a nice long weekend.Image: Getty Images / Andrew Bertuleit