Huge steps forward for the state.
After 37 days without any new COVID-19 cases, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is easing restrictions on gatherings in the home, the use of masks and moving towards a system of density limits rather over caps on the numbers of people at hospitality venues.
During Sunday’s announcements, Andrews said this next set of rules will remain in place for the next few months, indicating a relatively normal-looking summer – so to speak.
“We have many months in front of us of living a different life. But it has to be a COVID-safe summer and then we will make further announcements once we get into 2021,” he said.
Here’s what has changed from today, Monday December 7.
Household visitors and gatherings will increase
Victorians will be able to have up to 30 visitors to their home per day.
The limit of 30 applies across the whole day — so you can’t have 30 people over for lunch and then have 30 people over for dinner, too.
There’s no limit on how many households can visit, so if all 30 people come from different households, that’s fine.
Public gathering limits will increase to 100 people, from any number of households.
Travel restrictions eased further
You can go on holiday anywhere in Victoria, and now you can book accommodation with the people you live with, your intimate partner, and up to 30 friends or family members who don’t live with you. Babies under 12 months are excluded from this limit.
There are no limits on the size of tourism groups, and no limits on the number of people allowed on tourism transport but face masks must be work at all times onboard transport.
People at weddings, funerals and religious events increased
The cap on weddings, funerals and religious gatherings will be removed, subject to a new density limit of one person per two square metres.
Dance floors at weddings will be allowed again, but there will be a one person per four square metre rule, with a maximum of 50 people.
If you’re having one of these events at your home, the 30 person limit applies.
Mask rules relaxed slightly, but you need to carry one with you
You will still need to carry a face mask at all times, unless you have a medical exemption.
But they will only remain mandatory in a few settings: public transport, rideshare vehicles and taxis, and some retail settings including indoor shopping centres, supermarkets, department stores and indoor markets.
Mr Andrews said some examples of stores where masks should be worn included Kmart, Myer, IKEA, Bunnings and JB Hi-Fi.
Wearing masks in other settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained is encouraged, but not mandatory.
Hospitality cap lifted as standing in bars comes back, clubs to reopen
The cap on the number of people who can visit hospitality venues will also be removed, subject to a density limit of one person per two square metres.
Up to 25 patrons will be allowed in a venue before the density quotient kicks in, no matter how small the venue is.
Using a QR code to keep track of patrons who visit the venue will be mandatory.
In a massive change for the hospitality sector, standing service will be allowed again.
Clubs and pubs with dancefloors can also reopen but venues must apply a to the dance floor, with a maximum of 50 people dancing at one time per dance area (such as in a nightclub with multiple dance floors).
Changes to retail, real estate and beauty services
Retail and beauty service businesses will be allowed to move to a density quotient of one person per two square metres, if they also introduce electronic record keeping.
If electronic record keeping is not possible for those businesses, the existing density limits will still apply.
Face masks will no longer be required for hairdressers, beauty and personal care services — however, Mr Andrews said staff continuing to wear them would be “common sense”.
Real estate inspections and auctions will be able to recommence with a one-person per two square metre density quotient if electronic record keeping is used.
If electronic record keeping is not used, a density quotient of one person per four square metres applies.
Sports, gyms and swimming facilities slightly relaxed
Indoor physical recreation facilities, such as gyms and community sports centres, will move to a density limit of one person per four square metres.
COVID marshals will be required when the venue is staffed — but when the venue is not staffed, a density quotient of one person per eight square metres will apply.
Outdoor physical recreation and sport will have a density quotient of one person per two square metres.
Exercise classes will be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
Aquatic facilities like swimming pools, spas and saunas will move to a density quotient of one person per two square metres, both indoors and outdoors.
More people in libraries, galleries, and other indoor venues
Community facilities like libraries, RSLs and community halls will be subject to a density limit of one person per two square metres, with no other cap.
Seated venues will be subject to the same density quotient, but with a maximum of 75 per cent fixed seating capacity and a maximum of 1,000 people.
Indoor non-seated entertainment venues, like galleries, will be able to hold up to half of their total capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people. A one-person per 2 square metre density quotient also applies.
Gaming will be subject to a density quotient of one person per four square metres, and standing service will be allowed.
Arcades, bingo centres and escape rooms can open. They can apply the two square metre rule if using electronic record-keeping to ensure people can keep 1.5 metres away from others.
More office workers to return in January 2021
Victorians who have been working from home may have a chance to return to the office next year.
The private sector, which is currently allowed to have up to 25 per cent of their workers on-site, will be able to move up to 50 per cent by January 11.
The Victorian public service will be allowed to have up to 25 per cent of workers back in the office from January 11, and move u to 50 per cent from February 8.
You can find out more information via the DHHS website.
Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.