Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has heralded a "day of hope and optimism" today after regional Victoria met the requirements to enter the next stage in the roadmap to recovery from COVID-19.
Regional Victoria will enter a Third Step easing of restrictions from midnight tomorrow night, including no restrictions on leaving home, the reopening of all retail to include services such as beauty and tattooing, and the reopening of hospitality venues for mostly outdoor seated service only.
However, indoor service venues can be open with a cap of 10 seated patrons per space subject to a one per 4sqm density rule, with a maximum of two subspaces. This means larger venues will be able to have up to 20 people inside.
Meanwhile, there will be a cap of 50 people on outdoor hospitality venues.
Groups of up to 10 will be able to gather outdoors, household bubbles of up to five people will be allowed, and schools will return to on-site learning from Term 4 with safety measures.
The state government was able to take these steps as the average daily number of cases in the last fortnight has been below five, and there have been no new cases in that time with an unknown source.
"Regional Victoria will be opening up in just the next 24 hours or so," Premier Andrews said.
"It's a massive thing. It is such good news - I am so, so pleased and proud of every single regional Victorian who has stayed the course, followed the rules, got tested. They've done an amazing job.
"I know it hasn't been easy because there have been many communities where to the best of our knowledge there has not been the virus."
He said there was no greater evidence than today's news to the people of Melbourne that strategies to get numbers low are possible.
"It is essential. You have no chance of keeping numbers low once you open up if you don't first get them low via the restrictions and the rules we have in place," he said.
The Premier explained restrictions on visitors to businesses would remain, including limits on the number of people, physical distancing and the wearing of masks.
For real estate services outdoor options will be permitted with a limit of 10 people, all community sport will also return for children, and non-contact sport will be allowed for adults.
Gathering limits for weddings will increase to 10 people, funerals will be allowed to have 20 mourners, and religious gatherings will have a limit of 10 people plus one faith leader.
"Tourist accommodation will open for regional Victorians in regional Victoria for them to travel and holiday within regional Victoria," Premier Andrews said.
"Every single business across regional Victoria will be required to have a COVID-safe plan, and those plans will be enforced from 28 September.
Photo: Visit Victoria
Updated at 11:11am AEST on 15 September 2020.
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