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Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
Photograph: Josie Withers

Outdoor recreation in Melbourne – what can and can’t you do right now

Confused about the latest rules about outdoor gatherings? Here’s a handy explainer

Rebecca Russo

From 11.59pm on Tuesday, October 27, metropolitan Melbourne further eases restrictions within the ‘third step’ on our roadmap to a new normal. This step means Melburnians can (among other things) gather in groups of up to ten people outside in a public place for outdoor recreation. 

There has been quite a bit of confusion regarding seeing friends and family outside now, so we thought we’d clear up a few frequently asked questions. Remember, if you need further clarification, please head to the DHHS website

So what can we do from October 28?
You can meet up with up to nine friends or family members (who you don't live with) outside. You no longer have to be from a maximum of two households, however, all ten people must be within 25km of their homes or workplaces. You can drive to this destination. Alternatively, if you live in a household of bigger than ten, your entire household can hang out outdoors, but you may not meet up with other households. 

Do we have to be exercising when together?
You can exercise with these people if you wish, but you don't have to be exercising. You can now socialise.

Can we play tennis or go golfing?
Outdoor sport settings can reopen including tennis courts, golf courses, bocce and the like, if you don't need to enter facilities to use them (ie you don't need to use a change room or toilet to engage in this sport). 

What about playing sport?
Children under 18 can meet up for outdoor contact sport, and people 18 and over can meet up and play non-contact sport outdoors with the minimum number needed to play, eg two cricket teams can play a match. Personal training, fitness and dance classes can also go ahead with up to ten people outdoors.  

What does 'socialising' mean?
Socialising could be sitting on a park bench, having a lazy kick with a footy, reading a book or having a picnic. If you don’t live with your companions, physical distancing measures should be maintained.

Do we have to wear masks?
Yes, absolutely. You must wear a mask or face covering, and a face shield is not sufficient. 

So picnics are really back? How do I eat with a mask on?
Yes, picnics are allowed for up to ten people. Masks should be worn at all times unless you’re eating or drinking. You are allowed to lower your mask when taking a bite, but don’t take this too far. Masks are there for your safety and the safety of your picnic partners. It’s also a good idea not to share food if you don’t live together. Here are some of our favourite picnic spots (if you live within 25km), and here are some places that will deliver a pre-packed picnic hamper straight to your door – or even your park.

Can I work out with my personal trainer?
Personal training sessions can be conducted outdoors, for up to nine people plus the trainer. 

Can I go to an outdoor pool?
Outdoor pools have reopened, and they now have a density quotient of a maximum of 50 people at one time. 

Can I see two different groups of friends on two different days? Or can I only catch up with one group of friends outdoors?
Don’t get this confused with the “social bubble” rules for indoor gatherings (read them here if you need a refresher). For outdoor hangs, you can only catch up with nine other people or your household members outdoors at any one time. But you can choose different friends to catch up with outdoors at different times – so, theoretically, I can meet up with Friend Group A for yoga in the morning and then have a dinner picnic with Friend Group B.

How long can we picnic for?
There is no limit on how long you can be outside your home for shopping or socialising.

Does 'public outdoor place' mean a park? A barbecue spot? My front yard? My back yard? Where can we meet up?
You can only have someone over to your house if they are in your single social bubble. Otherwise, you cannot invite others over for a barbecue in your backyard, or even a picnic in your front yard. It needs to be a public park or garden outside of your home. 

What if I have no friends? Can I hang out in a park by myself?
Absolutely! Read that book. Get that vitamin D. Just remember to wear a mask. 

The reason we have these rules in place is to keep everyone safe and healthy. Please use common sense and limit the number of people you’re really interacting with. I know it’s hard, and I know how much y’all miss seeing friends and family, but don’t abuse the rules.

Got more questions? Here's what you can and can't do in Victoria right now.

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