Premier Dan Andrews has announced that regional Victoria will move to the third step on the Victoria's reopening roadmap from Wednesday night, paving the way for hospitality businesses and social visits to resume.
From 11.59pm on September 16, regional Victoria will move to the third step of the roadmap, with Andrews saying, "it is something we should all be very pleased and proud of the job that regional Victorians have done." The announcement follows the news that regional Victoria has brought its 14-day average case rate down to 3.6, with the last mystery case being recorded on September 1.
Moving to the third step means that regional Victorian cafés, restaurants and pubs will be allowed to reopen for table service, with up to 50 people seated outside (with one person for every two metres of space). Indoors, up to ten people will be allowed per space, as long as density limits are maintained.
Regional Victorians will also be allowed to socialise more and will be able to leave home for any reason. Gatherings of up to ten people will be allowed outside (children under 12 months are not included), and households will be able to nominate a single household bubble of up to five people to visit them at home.
Weddings can resume with up to ten people, and funerals can have up to 20 mourners attend. Religious gatherings of up to ten people, plus a faith leader, can also take place outdoors only.
Parents will be happy to hear that all community sport for children can resume, and schools will begin a staggered reopening at the start of term four. For adults, non-contact sport can resume.
Many regional Victorians will also be happy to hear that tourist accommodation will be allowed to reopen, and holidays are back on for those living regionally.
Importantly, these changes do not affect metropolitan Melbourne's level of restrictions. Melburnians cannot leave metro Melbourne to travel to regional Victoria (except for the current permitted reasons). Andrews reiterated that this was "a day of hope and optimism" however. "This strategy is working. It has worked in regional Victoria [and] it is working in metropolitan Melbourne."