Here’s What Victorians Can & Can’t Do Under The New Stage 3 Lockdowns

With Premier Daniel Andrews announcing this morning that Victoria will be placed under what he calls “stage three” coronavirus restrictions as of midnight Monday, it’s worth taking a moment to decipher just what in the blue hell that actually means.

With confusing messaging coming in a constant stream from Canberra, and each individual State and Territory largely left to decide what part of what recommendations applies to them, it can be hard to interpret just what exactly you are – and aren’t – allowed to do under the restrictions. We’ve taken the time to sift through all the regulations set to be brought into effect in Victoria so you have as clear an idea as you can about what life is gonna look like tomorrow.

What does “Stage 3” actually mean?

The short answer there is that Stage 3 lockdowns mean the most recent Federal recommendations on social gatherings are being made legally enforceable in Victoria. Last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison recommended all indoor and outdoor gatherings be limited to two people maximum. In Victoria, those limits will be enforceable by police from midnight Monday, with on-the-spot fines of over $1,600 to apply to any individual found to be flouting them.

Are there any exceptions to that?

The two-person indoor and outdoor gathering limit does not apply to family households of more than two people. It also does not apply to existing households (read: sharehouses) with more than two people in them. The gathering limit also does not apply to workplaces and schools.

I live in a sharehouse of 3 people. What does this mean for me?

You are not allowed to have any visitors at all – a person living by themselves is allowed one non-family member to visit, though it is heavily discouraged. You and your housemates are allowed to leave the house together, as a group, provided you are performing any one of the four basic functions of food shopping, seeking medical treatment, exercising, or commuting to unavoidable work or study.

I live in Abbotsford. Can I visit my family or partner if they live in Prahran?

This remains unclear for now. The Federal Government messaging on the matter is muddy, although they did clarify this morning that you can visit your siblings or parents, or your partner if you consider them to be “family.”  Conversely, the official Victorian Government directive is “if you can stay home, you must stay home.” The State Government does consider leaving the house for “compassionate” reasons to be a compelling reason, though it’s unclear what that constitutes. We’ll update this as more information becomes available.

Can my housemates and I go outside for a walk?

You sure can! Members of your immediate household are permitted to gather together outside for the purposes of daily exercise. This includes things like going for a walk or a run or whathaveyou. Social distancing measures still apply, mind you. So keep some space between you all. All other forms of outdoor gathering in public are banned, however. If you’re loading up an esky and plopping down on a picnic rug to sink a few fresh air frothies at the park, you’re gonna cop a big fine.

Are there any more closures under Stage 3?

Playgrounds, skate parks, and outdoor gyms will close as part of Stage 3 restrictions. All previous business closures remain in place, per Federal Government guidelines. Cafes and hospitality businesses are still permitted to conduct takeaway only business, although it’s unclear at this stage how that will be reconciled with the “shopping for what you need” mandate.

What about weddings and funerals?

The two-person gathering limit does not apply to weddings and funerals. Previously-announced gathering restrictions of 5 people per wedding and 10 people per funeral apply.

I’ve been stood down from my job and can’t make rent this month. What happens now?

Victoria has this morning accepted and implemented the moratorium on money-based property evictions for both commercial and residential tenants. You will not be booted from your house because the coronavirus pandemic has caused your income to bottom out for the next six months. There is reportedly more rental relief on the way for tenants, but for the time being if you are experiencing financial stress, it is best to contact your property manager and landlord and attempt to come to some sort of arrangement, be that a rent reduction, a rent pause, or a rent holiday. Whether that occurs is up to the discretion of your landlord at this stage, however.

What happens to any selfish turd who decides to ignore the new restrictions?

From midnight Monday, the entire Victoria Police force – and not just the 500 officers assigned to coronavirus restriction enforcement last week – will be directed to hand on-the-spot fines to anyone caught ignoring the social movement restrictions. For individuals, this fine will be $1,652. For a business, that fine climbs to $9,913. Those fines can also be exponentially increased through the courts in severe cases.

Will other states follow suit?

That’s a big fat TBD. It’s suspected that NSW and the ACT may implement similar measures at some point, although that remains largely unconfirmed. Ultimately, it’s a decision for each individual state to make. The frequent handballing by the Federal Government has made it abundantly clear that a nationally-mandated lockdown is not going to happen. Victoria, in moving to Stage 3, is the first state to take that step.

If you think you may have coronavirus, either call your doctor (DON’T visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you’re struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

And please remember to wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) and keep at least 1.5 metres between you and those around you.