Victoria Takes Next Step to New Normal

By AAP
June 1, 2020 Updated: June 1, 2020

Victorians are now able to sit down at their local pub or cafe as months of restrictions have eased to allow 20 people to gather at public venues.

Victorians have also been urged to keep their guard up while they get back on the beers and go out for brunch, as months of COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Cafes, restaurants and other spaces where groups gather have reopened with 20-person limits under changes to lockdown rules on Monday, but a return to office work will not follow soon.

Patrons at eateries still need to maintain 1.5 metres between tables, and contact details will be collected to assist in rapid tracing if anyone falls ill with COVID-19.

Premier Daniel Andrews has acknowledged the situation is “not perfect” for hospitality businesses, and urged Victorians to continue to work from home if they can.

“As we open up the economy … We will see more positive tests, we will see more outbreaks,” he said.

“Now I know there’s some frustration there, people like all the rules to come off yesterday. That’s not smart, that won’t work.”

Stressing Victoria can’t just switch back to normal, Andrews said one of Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s biggest concerns was hundreds of thousands of people returning to work.

“It’s almost impossible in some office environments to not be coming into contact with very large numbers of people,” Andrews told reporters.

“Then, of course, there’s a small matter of how people will get to work with 15 percent of the public transport system able to be safely used and maintain that 1.5 metres distance.”

Opposition leader Michael O’Brien railed against the Premier’s comments, claiming there’s nothing to stop country communities with little public transport returning to work.

“The Premier is being very unfair to people who live outside Melbourne. He’s paralysing them because of his inability to run Melbourne public transport safely,” he said.

Libraries, galleries, museums, amusement parks, places of worship, beauty clinics, nail salons and massage parlours can also reopen, albeit with no more than 20 people at a time.

People are also allowed to stay in holiday homes and return to caravan parks and camping grounds.

The latest step towards normality in Victoria came as four fresh cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Monday.

They included one who has been in close contact with an infected worker from the Rydges on Swanston hotel.

The new case brings the total for that outbreak to eight.

Another of the latest cases was a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, while two were discovered through community testing.

There have been no new cases linked to the family outbreak inĀ Keilor Downs, in Melbourne’s northwest, which has now infected 13 people across two homes.

Victoria has had 1653 cases, with 1560 people recovering from the illness and 19 deaths.

That leaves 74 active cases, with six people currently in hospital, including one in intensive care.

Victoria’s total has included 168 cases where the source of transmission isn’t known.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Sunday declared Victoria’s state of emergency would be extended until 11.59pm on June 21.

The extension is aimed at allowing health authorities to continue implementing legal directions, including the changes starting on Monday.