Melbourne residents will remain in Stage 4 lockdown for at least another three weeks under the government’s roadmap to reopening the state.
However from 14 September, when lockdowns were initially scheduled to end, the curfew will start an hour later from 9pm, exercise will be doubled to two-hours per day, people who live alone will be able to create a “social bubble” with another person, and public outdoor gatherings of two people or a household will be allowed for up to two hours.
Further restrictions will be lifted on the 28 September if the average daily case rate in Melbourne drops to 30 to 50 cases over a 14 day period, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday.
These include public gatherings being increased to a maximum of five people from two households, a staggered return of some students, reopening of childcare, and a number of industries will be able to return to work.
The curfew will not be lifted until 26 October, when the state moves into the third step of the roadmap if the 14-day average daily case number is reduced to five, with no more than five cases with an unknown source recorded in the state over a fortnight.
In this stage, Melbourne residents will be allowed to leave their home for any reason and there will be no restrictions on distance. Gatherings of 10 people will be permitted outdoors, and up to five visitors at home. Retain, hairdressing, and hospitality will also open.
The final stage, planned for introduction on 23 November if there are no new cases recorded in the state for 14 days, will see outdoor gatherings of 50 people and most restrictions dropped.
Mr Andrews announced the plan after a week of speculation, as the state recorded 63 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and five more deaths.
“This is not a 50-50 choice,” Mr Andrews said.
“The modelling … indicates that if we open up too fast then we have a very high likelihood that we are not really opening up at all, we’re just beginning a third wave.
“There is no choice but to do this in a safe and steady way.”
Melbourne has been under harsh Stage 4 restrictions since 2 August, with residents unable to leave the house between 8pm and 5pm, only able to exercise for one hour a day, and barred from travelling beyond 5 kilometres from their home, while regional Victoria is under Stage 3.
Outside of metropolitan Melbourne, regional Victoria will move to the second step from 14 September. Public gatherings of five people from two households are allowed, childcare will open, and students will return to classroom learning.
Modelling by the University of Melbourne and New England, commissioned by the Victorian government, found Melbourne would likely still have a 14-day average of around 60 COVID-19 cases per day by mid-September, which could result in a third-wave if lockdowns were lifted in a week.
By comparison, during the peak of the virus in New South Wales the state recorded a 14-day average of 13 locally-acquired cases. As of Friday, 4 September, Victoria had a fortnightly average of 115 new cases.
As of Sunday, there were 1,872 active coronavirus cases in Victoria.
Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.
Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.
All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.