“Whether it’s 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day, or a smaller group of people standing up at the public bar at the local pub having a beer, this is the COVID normal that every Victorian has built,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
After enduring lockdown after lockdown and some of the tightest COVID-19 restrictions in the country, Victorians will return to a greater sense of normality from tonight as the state government eases most of the remaining pandemic rules.
With the Victorian population inching closer to being 90 per cent fully vaccinated - a milestone expected to be reached this weekend - visitor and venue capacity limits will be removed from 11.59pm tonight.
This means capacity limits in clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and every other public place will no longer be governed by COVID-19 - rather they will revert back to regular liquor licensing laws.
All indoor and outdoor events with less than 30,000 fully vaccinated attendees will be able to proceed with no special approval and outdoor events with 30,000 or more will only need to publish their COVIDSafe Plan.
Indoor venues – including stadiums that have a capacity of 30,000 or more – will need to get a one-off approval of their COVIDSafe Plan from the Victorian Government.
Further, there will no longer be any caps on the amount of people permitted to gather at homes, which is encouraging news for large families as the Christmas period approaches and the weather gets warmer.
In addition, dance floors will reopen to revellers and Victorians will be able to enjoy a drink while standing - simple pleasures that residents have missed out on for large parts of 2020 and 2021.
Masks will also be able to come off in most settings except for retail. However, the Premier said his government was looking to remove mask requirements for shoppers in the middle of December.
However, they will still be required for primary school staff and visitors and for students in Years 3 to 6, for workers serving the public at hospitality venues, for workers and customers at indoor retail, for visitors and select workers in hospitals or care facilities, and for people using public transport, taxi/rideshare and planes.
Non-essential retail settings across Victoria will join the vaccinated economy and will only be open to those who are fully vaccinated, under 12 years and two months, or have a valid exemption.
Quarantine and isolation requirements are also going to change at midnight, meaning close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases will no longer have to self-quarantine.
Instead, only confirmed cases will need to isolate, and those that come into contact with infected people just need to get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.
The Department of Health will continue to manage emerging outbreaks of concern and ‘superspreader events’ and can impose a quarantine period on contacts on a case-by-case basis, depending on evidence.
The changes also effectively mean the end of mandatory deep cleaning. Businesses will self-manage their exposure in line with public health guidance.
“This is quite an amazing achievement on behalf of every single Victorian. Our state should be proud,” Andrews said.
“It really will be a Christmas like no other - but a normal Christmas. It’s one that we’ve all earned. It’s one that every Victorian will enjoy.
“These two years have been so, so challenging and Victorians have given so much. I’m proud of them. I’m grateful to them.”
Updated at 10.55am AEDT on 18 November 2021.
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