Baby steps to COVID Normal

Premier Daniel Andrews has held his much anticipated press conference outlining a relaxation of COVID restriction.

From 11:59pm tonight, the five-kilometre limit for exercise and shopping will be extended to 25 kilometres and the two-hour time limit for exercise and socialising will also fall away.

He announced that outdoor sports settings like tennis courts, golf courses and skateparks will be able to reopen.

All allied health professionals currently operating will be able to resume routine face-to-face care.

Outdoor real estate auctions will be able to take place with up to 10 people, plus the required staff.

In especially good news to many, hairdressers will be able to open, with strict safety protocols in place.

From tonight, groups of up to ten people from two households will also be able to gather in outdoor public places, either for exercise – or for things like a picnic in the park.

“I know some people will reasonably ask why it’s limited to two households – and not five or ten. But by limiting the number of households, we’re limiting any potential spread of the virus,” said Mr Andrews.

He said thousands more Victorians will be able to go back to work – particularly those who work outside.

“That includes tradies undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work, mobile pet groomers and photographers,” he said.

Further steps will be made in coming few weeks, at this stage planned for 11:59pm on 1 November, the rest of the Third Step will see retail, hospitality and personal care services open again.

“This is a timeline that is based on the current advice of our public health team,” Mr Andrews said.

He said if Melbourne continue to track well on the most important indicators — case averages, mystery cases, test numbers and the number of days people wait before they get tested — the restrictions may be in a position to move sooner.

“My commitment to Melburnians: we’ll review this data each and every day this week and when we get to next weekend, if we can move any earlier and do it safely, we will,” he said.

Mr Andrews said when we do reach the Third Step it will also mean we move from “stay home” to “stay safe” — with no restrictions on the reasons to leave home.

Under this step, all remaining retail will open.

Restaurants, cafes and pubs will open, personal and beauty services will be able to offer treatments to clients – as long as a face mask can be worn.

“These businesses will be able to have staff onsite for a ‘dark opening’ from 28 October, giving them time to prepare to open their doors to the public,” he said.

There is also good news on home visits too — from November households can have two people and their dependents visit their home once per day.

Unfortunately, for now, travelling to Regional Victoria is still off the cards.

However, if you have a holiday home in regional Victoria, you will be able to arrange to travel there to carry out fire or flood preparation in consultation with your local Council.

“I understand that for some these changes won’t be enough — they’ll want more – and they’ll want it sooner, but the whole way through this, we have been guided by our public health experts and their advice.
“None of us ever want to do this again.

So please, keep wearing a mask, keep maintaining your distance – and if you feel sick, get tested and stay home.

“We can do this,” Mr Andrews said.

For more details on the implication for our local community, keep an eye out for the October edition of The WD Bulletin and the November Warrandyte Diary.