Restrictions ease but State of Emergency extended

Victoria’s State of Emergency has been extended for three weeks as the state begins easing coronavirus restrictions with eateries now able to serve sit down meals, overnight stays given the green light and residents able to have 20 people in their homes.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced the extension on Sunday, with the State of Emergency now set to expire on June 21.

It is the third time the State of Emergency, originally put in place on March 17, has been renewed.

The announcement comes as restrictions eased significantly from Monday, with restaurants and cafés now able to serve meals in store, galleries and community facilities now able to open, overnight stays in accommodation permitted and residents allowed to have a total of 20 people in their home at a time.

“Victorians will no doubt welcome the further easing of restrictions from Monday, but our coronavirus fight is far from over,” Ms Mikakos said.

“Keeping the State of Emergency in place will ensure we have the tools we need to keep Victorians safe.

“This is the biggest public health challenge we’ve faced in our lifetimes and we need all Victorians to keep doing their bit by continuing to follow the directions of the Chief Health Officer.”

The extension means police still have powers to enforce directions from the Chief Health Officer and can issue on the spot fines of up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses who do not comply.

On Friday Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that as of June 1 residents no longer have a definitive list of reasons to leave home.

The government’s official message has changed from ‘stay home’ to ‘stay safe’ with residents asked to continue maintaining physical distance, take hygiene precautions, stay home and get tested if unwell.

However, there is still a strong push for those who can work from home to continue doing so.

“One of the key things that won’t change is working from home. If you’re currently working from home, you must keep working from home,” Mr Andrews said.

“By working from home, we limit the number of people moving around and we limit the spread of this virus.

“We’re also being upfront: we don’t yet have a timeline on when this might change, or how we might be able to get back to work as normal. For now, we’re saying this will be in place until at least the end of June, but it may well be longer. As always, that will depend on the advice of our Chief Health Officer.”

The Central Goldfields Shire has had just one case of COVID-19, confirmed on April 2 and is no longer active.

In nearby regions, the Pyrenees Shire has zero cases, Hepburn two, Loddon three, Mount Alexander six, Greater Bendigo eight and Ballarat 11, none of which are active.

As of Monday there were 1653 cases in Victoria, less than 100 of which are active.

Victoria’s new restrictions, as of June 1, include:

Visiting friends and family

Residents can now have a total of 20 people in their homes — for a family of five that means 15 visitors — and outdoor gatherings can increase to 20 people.

Travel

Overnight stays can resume at both private residences and in accommodation, including camp- grounds and caravan parks, although not with communal facilities like kitchens and bathrooms.

Hospitality

Cafés, restaurants and pubs can now open their doors to serve meals to up to 20 customers at a time per enclosed space. A number of precautions apply including that venues must abide by physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres, tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart, and contact details must be taken from every customer to assist in rapid contact tracing.

Community and entertainment facilities

Libraries, youth centres, and other community facilities can open with no more than 20 people in a single area, plus those needed to operate the space. Entertainment and cultural venues like galleries, museums, drive-in cinemas, historic sites, zoos and outdoor amusement parks can open with physical distancing limits.

Non-food and drink market stalls can open.

Sport

Swimming pools can open with limits of 20 people. Community sporting activities can go ahead with up to 20 people in undivided spaces, provided the sport is outdoors, non- competition, non-contact, and people are able to play 1.5 metres apart.

Beauty and personal care

Services like nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours can open with up to 20 customers per space.

Religious ceremonies

Up to 20 people are now allowed at wedding ceremonies, plus the celebrant and couple, and up to 50 people are allowed at funerals in addition to those required to conduct the ceremony.

Up to 20 people are allowed at other religious ceremonies in addition to those required to perform the service.

Real estate

House auctions and open for inspections can go ahead but are subject to a 20-person limit, with agents required to keep the contact details of those who attend.

For more on this story see Page 3 of The Advertiser, Tuesday, June 2

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