After months in one of the world's strictest lockdown periods, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced an end to the curfew and a COVID-safe return to work for more than 127,000 Melbourne residents, starting from September 28.
On September 27, Victoria recorded 16 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, with the Premier confirming "safe and steady steps" would be taken to ease the state out of lockdown.
“I am deeply grateful to the Victorian community for the amazing work, the sacrifice, the pain that they have endured and will need to endure for a bit longer,” he said.
The Premier also announced plans to get students back into classrooms and have more young children in daycare.
Other rules to be changed include:
- Groups of up to five people – from two different households – can gather outside;
- Return to on-site learning for primary school students, final-year university students and apprentices, with daycare also returning;
- Rules restricting shopping to just one person from each household, once per day, have been lifted;
- Outdoor pools will open, and people can exercise with a personal trainer;
- Care facilities and hospitals will allow one guest per patient, for a maximum of two hours per day;
- Weddings will be allowed with five guests;
- In-person real estate inspections to resume.
“That is more than what we had hoped to be able to achieve. It is not as much as people would want but it is very important that we
take those steps safely,” the Premier said.
The Premier also announced that face masks will still be mandatory, with face shields not permitted when outside the home.
“Face shields don’t meet the test of covering your nose and mouth. You can wear one if you want, in terms of your eyes, but it would need to be accompanied by a mask…a shield is akin to not wearing a face covering,” Mr Andrews said. “A shield is not as good as a shield and a face covering. It needs to be both. A shield alone does not work to the extent we would like.”
Andrews added that further changes may be considered after October 19, saying the state would need to wait to see the number of cases in the coming weeks.