COVID-19: Melbourne should ease out of restrictions cautiously

Burnet Institute epidemiologist Professor Mike Toole AM told The Age Melbourne should emerge out of the second wave much more cautiously than it had eased out of the first wave.

He said Melburnians would have something to look forward to on 28 September when some of the lowest-risk restrictions were eased, but cautioned against pinning hopes on the 26 October and 23 November dates outlined in the government’s four-step road map.

“I can see why people are fixated on Sunday – it will be an eight-week stage four lockdown and curfew, and we’ve all been looking forward to that being over,” Professor Toole said.

“From then on, I think it should be case based – it’s not even just the number of cases, but the nature of the cases. People should get dates out of their mind.”

Professor Toole said Australian states and territories had eased restrictions sooner than they should have, attributing the intensity of the second wave to the limits on public gatherings, which increased from five to 20.

“That was the critical mistake”, Professor Toole said. “That’s what fuelled the second wave.”

Restrictions have eased in Regional Victoria, but Metropolitan Melbourne remains in Stage 4 lockdown

Victoria announced 28 new cases on 22 September, 11 cases on 21 September and 14 new cases on 20 September, bringing the 14-day rolling average for Metropolitan Melbourne to 32.8.

While metropolitan Melbourne remains in Stage 4 lockdown, restrictions have eased in Regional Victoria.

There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home, and groups of ten people are permitted to meet outdoors.

Cafes, restaurants, beauty and personal care, and some outdoor entertainment venues are now able to open. Restaurants can open in a predominantly outdoor capacity, with a group limit of 10 people, and density limits.

Visitors are allowed into your home, but only from one other household, and with a limit of five visitors.

Face coverings are still mandatory in Regional Victoria, and in Metropolitan Melbourne.

The recently announced roadmap to a “COVID normal” outlines how restrictions will be eased across the state.

In Metropolitan Melbourne, Stage-4 lockdown will continue until 28 September. The curfew has been pushed back to 9pm, and exercise is now permitted for two hours, instead of one hour.

Two people, or a household, are now allowed to meet outside for up to two hours. The four reasons to leave home (exercise, essential work, shopping and providing care) remain the same. Residents must ‘stay local’, deemed to be within 5km of their home.

A social bubble has also been introduced for people living alone and single parents with children under 18, who will be able to buddy up with a nominated person. Buddies will be allowed to travel outside their 5km radius to visit one another.

Metropolitan Melbourne is due to take to a second step towards a COVID-normal on 28 September. The eased restrictions will allow for outdoor gatherings of up to five people, from two households only.

Further easing of restrictions is due to take place on 26 October and again on 23 November, depending on case numbers.

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