Sunday stands as a pretty big day for people in Melbourne. Although the city’s rolling 14-day average of new coronavirus cases isn’t quite at the “five or less” mark required to fully move to the next stage of the State Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, it’s still expected that some restrictions will be lifted.
Premier Dan Andrews is scheduled to announce the nature of that rollback at a press conference this coming Sunday, and he’s already stated that, although it’s not a full Step Three, there will be some “significant” steps taken.
While we don’t quite know what rules will go – there’s some speculation that the 5km travel radius will be extended to 20km – we do have a fair idea about what rules will remain.
Andrews has stated repeatedly that the next step in the lockdown rollbacks will centre “much more in the social space” than “in the economic space,” meaning Sunday’s announcements will focus much more on getting Melburnians out of the house and back around one another as a priority.
In today’s daily press conference, however, Andrews went a little further by confirming a handful of rules that won’t be tossed aside in Sunday’s announcements.
Chiefly, the restriction on people travelling outside the Metropolitan Melbourne region will remain in place, with the vaunted “ring of steel” to keep Melburnians inside the Greater Melbourne area for a little while longer. That effectively rules out regional holidays for people in the metro area.
Andrews did confirm that new rules will be written for people with houses in regional areas who need to travel and prepare those properties for the upcoming bushfire season, but asserted clearly that “It’s not a reason to go and travel outside metropolitan Melbourne and have a de-facto few days off, that’s not what it’s about, it is about properly responding to the fire risk.”
“It will be structured, it will be properly enforced, and there will be penalties if people abuse that,” Andrews stated.
The Premier also asserted that indoor dining for restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars is not on the list of changes that will be announced come Sunday, however he hinted that it might be a different story for Regional Victoria.
“I’ve been very clear about that all week,” Andrews asserted. “It will not be safe for us to make those decisions. But there will be opportunities for regional Victoria.”
Under the Step Three guidelines, pubs and restaurants would only be permitted to have punters in outdoor seated areas only. It remains unclear at this stage whether that stage of eased restrictions will be part of Sunday’s announcements.
Regardless, things in Melbourne are looking increasingly up. And Sunday looms as a very important day for all of us here in the Victorian capital.
Fingers crossed, mates.