A night curfew will be lifted in Victoria and about 127,000 thousand people will return to work as the state winds back COVID-19 lockdown rules.
The changes were announced after the two-week rolling case average for new COVID-19 cases in Melbourne fell to 22.1, well under the aim of 30-50, on Sept. 27. The average is just 0.6 for regional Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews says the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be lifted from 5 a.m. on Monday, but he urged people not to hold private indoor or outdoor gatherings, with those caught doing so liable for a $5,000 fine.
“I know people want that fundamental connection with friends and family, I get that, I understand that, but I also understand, what I am completely clear about, the evidence is irrefutable: the home environment is one of the most risky environments, he said.
“It is how people let their guard down, and there is a degree of informality, there is no distancing, there is not the cleaning at that kind of industrial level, that is when this virus gets away from you and one big family or small family visiting another and another and another does nothing but potentially spread this virus.
“Let’s not let that happen. We are so close. We’re so close to defeating this thing.”
From midnight on Sunday, about 127,000 workers will be allowed to return to work, which is 30,000 more than originally expected.
Year 12 students will be able to return to school for assessments on Oct. 3 with primary school students to return from Oct. 12.
A household or up to five people from two households will be able to gather outside, while the limit on one person per household going shopping once a day will also be lifted.
In hospitals, each patient will be allowed one visitor per day for a maximum of two hours, while for patients that are under the age of 18, two parents or carers can visit without any time limit.
However, exercise limits of two hours per day within 5 km will remain in place.
Weddings with a limit of five people, including the marrying couple and two witnesses will also be allowed in outdoor spaces.
Premier Andrews foreshadowed that full freedom of movement, Victorians leaving home without needing any reason, could come on Oct. 19.
He said there were 399 active cases in the state on Sept. 27, the first time there have been under 400 since June 30.
“It’s one measure among many of the amazing performance of the Victorian community – staying apart but sticking together, making sure that we defeat this second wave,” Andrews said.
“And that’s why I’m not only proud of the Victorian community, I’m deeply grateful to the Victorian community for the amazing work. The sacrifice, the pain that they have endured, and will need to endure for a bit longer.”
Earlier on Sunday, Victoria reported just 16 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths taking the state’s pandemic death toll to 784 and the national figure to 872.
By Marty Silk