Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has today accelerated the state's plans for reopening towards a COVID normal, with retail, hospitality and other sectors to be back in operation from midnight, 1 November.
If recent trends continue, the Premier flagged he could potentially be announcing an even earlier date next Sunday.
"There is some optimism or confidence that if things continue this week as they have the last five days, we may be able to bring that forward," Premier Andrews said.
Today's announcement came after just two cases were reported in the past 24 hours and just one case the day before that, with a rolling daily average of 7.5 cases in metropolitan Melbourne to 17 October.
Changes from tomorrow
Because of these encouraging results in Melbourne, the Premier announced a series of relaxations of restrictions in the city from 11:59pm tonight including: no time limit on leaving the home for exercise or socialising; an expansion of the allowed travel distance from the home from 5km to 25km; and outdoor gatherings increasing to 10 people from two households.
Other openings as of tomorrow - subject to COVID-safe conditions - will include tennis courts, skate parks, golf, hairdressers, outdoor pools with up to 30 swimmers and indoor pools for one-on-one hydrotherapy sessions.
There will be a full return of allied health services, and real estate auctions will also be allowed with a maximum of 10 people and commercial real estate inspections can occur too.
Other activities that will be permitted tomorrow include automated car washing and pool cleaning, mobile or home business pet grooming, outdoor photography.
Further easing in November
But the biggest changes will be seend on the first day of next month when retail will open back up, and hospitality venues will be allowed a maximum of 20 people inside and 50 people outside.
"Outdoor seated entertainment can host a maximum of 50 people or 25 per cent of the venue's fixed seating capacity," he added.
Beauty and personal services will return, contact sport for under 18-year-olds and non-contact for adults will recommence, a maximum of 20 people will be allowed for outdoor religious gatherings, and a maximum of 10 people will be allowed at weddings and a limit of 20 mourners at funerals.
Relaxations for regional Victoria
As is expected to be the case in Melbourne in two weeks' time, as of tomorrow in regional Victoria "the bubble is gone", with two adults and any dependents at a time allowed to visit the home.
"Hospitality venues can increase their capacity to 70 people outside and 40 people inside - four groups of 10 instead of two groups of 10," Premier Andrews said.
"Outdoor religious gatherings will increase to 20 people, indoor pools are open for 18 and under, a maximum of 20 swimmers, and one-on-one hydrotherapy with health professionals will also be allowed."
In the intervening weekend of 24 November, residents of metropolitan Melbourne who have properties in regional Victoria will be allowed to travel to those properties to undertake flood or fire preparedness measures.
"There will be a process in consultation with your local council from Wednesday next week to go and do those important works. It will be upon the issuance by your council of a fire prevention notice that legally requires you to go and do that work," he said.
The Premier congratulated Victorians for the amazing job they have done in recent weeks and months.
"What it means is that as so many cities across the world head into what is going to be a deadly winter, we in Melbourne and across Victoria are well placed to have a COVID-safe summer and a COVID-normal 2021," Premier Andrews said.
"Yes these lockdowns have come with significant hurt and pain and damage, but the strategy is working and will continue to work.
"It's not so long ago that we had 725 cases and there was simply no way we could have a debate - a perfectly legitimate debate about how to open, when to open, how to do that. That was just not an option available to us."
Updated at 11:43am AEDT on 18 October 2020.
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