Melbourne Stage 4 lockdown extended by two weeks, easing roadmap unveiled

Melbourne Stage 4 lockdown extended by two weeks, easing roadmap unveiled

With new daily cases of COVID-19 still above 60 in Victoria, Stage 4 lockdown restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne will be extended for two weeks before the state cautiously eases into a new normal.

As such, current Stage 4 lockdowns will be in place until 28 September, subject to public health advice.

But after that date Victorians will slowly move out of heavy COVID-19 restrictions, with an aim to reach the final step on the roadmap from 23 November.

According to Premier Daniel Andrews, the decision to extend Stage 4 was made with reference to extensive modelling which demonstrated that a third wave of COVID-19 was inevitable if restrictions were eased too fast.

"This is not a 50/50 choice. The modelling...indicates that if we open up too fast then we have a very high likelihood that we're really opening up at all, we're just beginning a third wave," Andrews said.

"We will be back in and out of restrictions, in and out of lockdown before the end of the year. Indeed, potentially, well before the end of the year.

"We can't run out of lockdown; we have to take steady and safe steps out of lockdown to find that COVID normal."

During the two week extension of Stage 4 in Melbourne restrictions will be changed somewhat to accommodate those living alone.

From 11.59 pm on 13 September the curfew will be expanded to 9pm instead of 8pm in recognition that the days are getting longer as Victoria heads into the warmer months.

Additionally, exercise will be permitted for two hours per day, and social bubbles will be allowed to accommodate those who live on their own and have been socially isolated for a long period of time.

Playgrounds will reopen and public outdoor gatherings of two people will be allowed.

Restrictions to be eased from 28 September

Subject to health advice, and if Melbourne is only recording between 30 to 50 new cases of COVID-19 per day at the time, restrictions will be eased further from 28 September.

At that time public outdoor gatherings can increase to up to five people from two households, and school will return for students in prep, grade 1 and grade 2.

More workplaces will be allowed to reopen at that time (particularly the construction industry), outdoor pools will reopen, outdoor personal training will be allowed, and outdoor religious gatherings of up to five people will be permitted.

From 26 October the 9pm curfew will no longer apply, Melburnians will be able to leave home for any reason and for any distance, and public outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed.

Additionally, visitors to homes will be permitted of up to five people from another nominated household.

Retailers and hairdressers will also be allowed to reopen, hospitality will recommence with outdoor seated service, and non-contact adult sport will make a staged return.

The final step of the roadmap will begin from 23 November and will see gathering sizes increase and most of the economy able to operate under COVID-19 guidelines.

As such, public outdoor gatherings will be allowed for up to 50 people, and visitors to the home will be allowed with up to 20 people at a time.

Hospitality services will be mostly back online, with seated indoor service of up to 20 people.

Real estate operations will recommence, and weddings and funerals will be allowed with up to 50 people.

"We would all like to reopen up as quickly as possible. We would all like to find that COVID normal or indeed go back to actual normal as soon as possible, but that is not the nature of this virus," Premier Andrews said.

"You can't run out of lockdown, because all you're doing is running into a third wave and we'll all be locked up again.

"I want a Christmas that is as close to normal as possible, and this is the only way."

Because the state's COVID-19 cases are predominantly being detected in metropolitan Melbourne, regional Victoria will be able to move along the easing roadmap faster.

As such, the state's regions, currently in Stage 3 restrictions, will be able to jump to the second step of reopening from 11.59pm on 13 September.

Today's announcements came as Victoria reported 63 new cases of COVID-19 today and just five deaths attributed to the virus.

There are 283 people in hospital because of COVID-19 in Victoria, with 16 people on a ventilator.

Updated at 1.05pm AEST on 6 September 2020.

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