News State Victoria News Friends, family and freedom: Melbourne’s tentative steps towards ‘COVID-normal’

Friends, family and freedom: Melbourne’s tentative steps towards ‘COVID-normal’

victoria post lockdown
Melburnians will enjoy many more freedoms from midnight Tuesday. Photo: AAP
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Visits to friends and family will be back on the agenda for Melburnians when the city’s marathon lockdown finally ends on Tuesday night – subject to an array of strict rules.

Under regulations likely to remain in force for several weeks, householders will be able to host two visitors from another household within their 25-kilometre limit – but only one per day.

“Arguably, your home is the most dangerous place for the spread of this virus. I know that jars with people … when you think about it, that’s where people let their guard down,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

“When you let your guard down, this virus will take advantage of you.”

The two visitors can also include dependents (e.g, a couple and their young children or an elderly relative). But neither group will be able to host more visitors or go to a second household on the same day.

Residents are also urged to note who has been to their home and when.

“If you’re having visitors, you can’t be a visitor to somebody else’s home and if they have visited you, they can only visit you on that one day,” Mr Andrews said.

“I’m sorry that there have to be limits, but there’s just no other choice that we can responsibly and safely make.”

Melburnians are also urged to wear masks when hosting guests or visiting someone else. However, Mr Andrews acknowledged that would be difficult to enforce.

He also encouraged Victorians to keep getting tested for the coronavirus at the onset of slightest symptoms.

Tuesday’s announcement came as the state posted its second consecutive day without COVID cases. The last time it had back-to-back “doughnut days” was March 5 and 6.

Melbourne’s 14-day average of new cases has fallen to just 2.8. There have been six mystery cases in the city in the past fortnight.

“What we, all of us as Victorians, have built is a precious thing, but it is fragile,” Mr Andrews said.

“We will be able to find a COVID-normal but we will all have to play our part in that and arguably there’s nothing more important than going and getting tested when you got even the mildest of symptoms.”

Elsewhere, NSW had two more locally acquired cases on Tuesday, both linked to the Oran Park Community cluster. There were also 10 infections in people in hotel quarantine.

Back in Melbourne, businesses across the city were getting ready to return to business when the lockdown finally ends at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

Melbourne retail and hospitality businesses got the go-ahead to reopen in the Premier’s announcement on Monday.

Hospitality venues will have a strict maximum of 20 people seated indoors – 10 per space – and 50 outdoors. Beauty, personal services and tattoo parlours will also reopen, and there are widespread changes from outdoor fitness to religious gatherings.

More changes are slated from midnight on November 8, including the end of the so-called “ring of steel” separating the capital from regional Victoria, as well as the 25-kilometre travel limit. Mr Andrews also promised more announcements, including how Victoria’s “COVID-normal Christmas” might look from then.

“The day for us to paint that more complete picture of the rest of 2020 is indeed the 8th,” he said.

Mr Andrews had been under intense pressure to ease restrictions while also awaiting the final report from an inquiry into the botched hotel quarantine program, widely believed to have sparked Victoria’s devastating second wave.