SYDNEY – Australian state of Victoria announced on Sunday relaxation in coronavirus restrictions after months of extended lockdown.
Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled the changes to the fourth phase of the lockdown that will kick in from Sunday midnight in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Andrews told reporters that the Victorians had shown a sign of “incredible courage” during the months of lockdown. He said the easing of restrictions was due to the drop in the number of infections.
“Victorians, in every community, from every background, every circumstance, have stayed the course and we just have a little longer to go, just a little longer to go in order to see off the second wave,” he said.
“And then to find the normal and to begin the process of rebuilding.”
According to the new rules, the authorities have extended the 5-kilometer radius rule for shopping and exercise to 25 kilometers.
The premier said the authorities have also scrapped the two-hour time limit for exercise and socializing and allowed hairdressers and outdoor sports settings like tennis courts, golf courses, and skateparks.
Groups of up to 10 people from two households can now gather in outdoor public places for exercise or a picnic in the park, he said.
The government has also allowed outdoor real estate auctions to recommence from Monday.
In regional Victoria, two adults and two children can now visit a home. Hospitality venues can increase the number of guests to 70 people outside and 40 inside.
“We are also able to get thousands more Victorians back to work – particularly those who work outside. That includes tradies undertaking outdoor maintenance and repair work, mobile pet groomers and photographers.”
Andrew said the government would review the guidelines again on Nov. 1 and further ease the restriction if the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to drop.
“I ask Victorians to keep working very hard each day this week, so that we can stand up here next Sunday and make further announcements that what is slated for Nov. 1 can be brought forward,” he said.
According to the proposed guidelines, Melbourne residents can leave their homes from Nov. 1 without restrictions. The government will also allow retail to reopen.
The number of COVID-19 infections in Victoria, which accounts for more than 65 percent of the total 27,383 cases in Australia, has dropped to a single digit in recent days.
In August, the state had recorded the daily number of cases in hundreds.
Victoria has recorded 20,317 infections and 816 deaths from COVID-19.