Victorians will kick off winter being able to enjoy meals, gather with friends at home, swim at pools or even get tattoos, as long as there is a maximum of 20 people.
Ahead of Victoria’s return to school on May 26, Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday a staged loosening of restrictions from June 1.
Gatherings of up to 20 people in homes as well as outdoors will be permitted as the government changed its message to stay home for a cautious call for Victorians to stay safe.
The lucky number twenty will also mark the number of people allowed at weddings, while up to 50 people will be able to attend funerals.
“The rules that accompany that opening up will be with us for a long time,” Andrews announced at a press conference.
“This is a COVID normal, this is not a return to business a usual.”
Victoria’s reopening will see the same number of people, 20, allowed to visit libraries and other community facilities, entertainment and cultural venues, as well as beauty and personal care services.
The start of the coldest season will also include a lifeline for the tourism industry as overnight stays in hotels will be permitted.
Campgrounds will be open for those eager to pitch their tents, but not their communal facilities like kitchens or bathrooms.
The announcements were welcomed by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce.
Both institutions hoped the start of June will mark the beginning of the economic recovery for many businesses.
Andrews said the relaxation of measures was possible due to Victoria’s high testing rate and low community transmission.
There have been 180 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission, and more than 175,000 tests completed.
If both indicators remained stable over the coming weeks, the government would look to further relax measures from June 22.
That would mean gyms would be able to reopen for up to 20 people.
Cinemas and theatres will also be allowed to reopen by June 22 as will Victorian ski resorts.
The move would also pave the way for an increase in the number of people allowed in venues like restaurants, cafes, galleries and museums to 50 people.
But Andrews urged Victorians to continue working from home at least until July.
“If we have literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people returning to office blocks, pressing lift buttons, sharing the kitchen […] It is the greatest risk to a second wave,” Andrews told reporters.
“If we have everybody returning to business as usual in those indoor workplaces then we will just see this virus spread and all of our good work will be frittered away.”
Victoria recorded two new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the state’s tally to 1603.
A man in his 60s from Victoria was the latest Australian to die of coronavirus. His death brought the state’s death toll to 19 on Saturday, and the national toll to 102.
By Ulises Izquierdo