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Melbourne’s physical distancing rules explained and how to go out right now

Everyday life has changed – but there are ways to go out safely and look after your fellow Melburnians

By Rebecca Russo and Nicola Dowse

As we navigate restrictions and kick this virus out of town, everyday life in Melbourne looks a lot different. At the time of writing, many of our favourite pastimes have put on pause. Even as things start to reopen, it’s likely food and drink venues will be emptier, live music will be quieter and handshakes will remain out of the question. 

We’ll be keeping you up to date with current rules and restrictions, but we also want everyone to be safe. 

So, when you leave your home only for those precious four reasons, for the sake of everyone across the state, please follow these important rules on physical distancing and enhanced hygiene.

RECOMMENDED: What you can and can't do in Victoria now.

Stay 1.5 metres apart

With the exception of members of your household or your exclusive partner, you must stay 1.5 metres away from other people. This applies even if they are your friends, even if you’re exercising together, and even if anyone you’re with is symptom-free.

Research has shown that physical contact is the primary method of transmission, so hugs, handshakes and high fives are on hiatus until further notice.

Stay close to home

Melburnians are currently restricted to a 25km radius from their homes (here's how to find how far that is). This means that all exercise and shopping should be done within that 25km radius.

The 25km bubble does not apply to those needing to seek or provide care, or to those carrying out permitted work, or to those visiting an intimate partner (or the person in your social bubble). 


Shop smart

The restriction allowing only one person per household to go shopping for essentials once per day was lifted on September 28. However, premier Dan Andrews noted that this “is not an invitation for an entire family group to go to the supermarket".

You must still shop for essentials within your 25km bubble, or, get your groceries delivered to your house – take a look at this list of grocery delivery services

Wear a mask in public

All Victorian residents must now wear a mask when leaving home. You can wear a single-use surgical face mask or a reusable cloth mask – bandanas, scarves and face shields (by themselves) are no longer acceptable face coverings. Whatever you choose, make sure it is covering your mouth and nose. If the mask isn't fully covering your nose, you're defeating the purpose of wearing it. Here's where you can get a face mask in Melbourne right now



Socialise safely

From October 28, Melburnians can meet up with others in outdoor, public locations for the purpose of socialising (or exercising). The rules surrounding this are as follows:

-Outdoor gatherings are restricted to a maximum of ten people, but there is no rule regarding the number of households. Children under 12 months are not included when accounting for ten people.

-You can only be outside for an unlimited amount of time.

-Gatherings must be in an outdoor public location. This includes parks and beaches but does not include your front yard or back yard. 

-You must keep your mask on at all times unless eating or drinking. You must maintain 1.5 metres from anyone outside your household (except your intimate partner if applicable).

-You cannot travel further than 25km to socialise, unless you are visiting your nominated single living bubble buddy or your intimate partner.

-Indoor gatherings are not allowed. There is an exception for those living alone (who may nominate one person to visit them at home) and intimate partners (who are allowed to visit each other).

Hand sanny is your friend

Please use hand sanitiser whenever you touch a surface in public and wash your hands with soap and water once you return home. The virus can survive on certain surfaces for up to five days – including on your skin. The most effective way to disinfect your hands is to thoroughly wash them for at least 30 seconds with soap and hot water.

If you are out and about, hand san is also a very effective stopgap, and many of Melbourne’s top boutique distilleries (including Patient Wolf and Urban Alley) are producing their own using the same stills where they brew their hooch. Here's where to buy Australian-made hand san.


Don’t touch your face

Be careful not to touch your face when you’re outside your home. You might well be shocked by the amount of time our mitts spend touching our mugs. Throughout the day, we might absentmindedly scratch our chins and bite our fingernails. We might rub an eye or, if no one’s looking, give our noses a cheeky pick. This all adds up to a lot of facetime for whatever nasties might be on your hands, so avoiding that unconscious touching is extremely important.

Cough and sneeze in ya elbow

Most of us are well mannered enough to cover our mouths when we need to clear our throat, but whereas it was once a sign of good manners to shield your mouth with your hands, the crook of your elbow is now the best place to unleash a cough or sneeze. This way, you won’t only be protecting those around if you’re infected, you’ll also be protecting yourself from whatever might already be on your hands (and here’s hoping Josh Frydenberg has learnt his lesson). You should cough or sneeze into your elbow even when you are wearing a mask.


Know to to be safe on PT

Public transport is still operating. If you are feeling sick, do not travel on public transport. If you are feeling fine, there are a number of things you can do to keep yourself safe while on public transport. Read about them here.

A reminder that you should still not be catching public transport beyond your 25km radius unless it is for receiving medical care (including dentistry), caregiving, permitted work or you are visiting your intimate partner or are the designated bubble buddy for someone who lives alone (and you are beyond your 25km specifically to visit them).

Get tested – even if you have mild symptoms

If you have even the slightest of symptoms, get tested as soon as possible. Our society has conditioned us to not make a fuss and just get on with it when we’re a bit under the weather. Those days are gone. If you have even a slight cough, a bit of a runny nose or a touch of joint pain, or even if you’re just feeling a little more tired than usual, you need to get tested immediately.

In the majority of people, symptoms can be extremely mild, and even asymptomatic cases are still capable of passing the infection on. There are testing centres across the city, and results will arrive within a couple of days by text. Either way, positive or negative, you’ll know exactly what to do regarding isolating and seeking further treatment. Here’s where to get tested right now, and here’s what it feels like to get tested.


Don't look for loopholes

We know it's tempting to start breaking the rules, now that numbers are so low. But the rules exist, temporarily, to bring down case numbers and save lives. So obey them and don't start looking for loopholes to these restrictions. Don't look for ways to legally avoid wearing a mask, or to travel beyond your 25km bubble. By adhering to these restrictions you're helping to protect all of Melbourne. There is light at the end of the tunnel, with a return to a much more normal life expected in late spring.

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