It's been one hell of a year. With so much changing it can be a bit confusing and frustrating, but we're here to outline what we know.
On August 2, Victorians living within metropolitan Melbourne went into stage four lockdown. Those restrictions were eased on Sunday, September 13, and then more "slow and steady steps" were revealed on Sunday, September 27. Regional Victoria moved to step three, with outdoor dining and limited visiting in the home, on September 16.
From 11.59pm on Sunday, September 27, Melbourne took the second step in a four-step roadmap. In order to take the second step, the 14-day average of new cases had to fall to between 30 and 50, and by September 27, it had dropped to 22.1. For a full breakdown of Victoria's reopening roadmaps, visit the website.
Confused? Here are some important details about the social restrictions operating in Melbourne right now.
For more up-to-date information on current regulations, you can also visit dhhs.vic.gov.au.
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What are the latest restrictions?
Metropolitan Melbourne is currently in the second step of a four-step roadmap. There are only four reasons to go out: to get essential food and supplies, to get care or give care, to exercise or for outdoor recreation, or to go to school or work in a permitted industry. You must be within 5km of home for shopping and exercise. Exercise and recreation is restricted to two hours per day, over a maximum of two separate trips. As of midnight on Sunday, September 27, there is no curfew in Victoria.
When will these restrictions ease?
According to the government's coronavirus roadmap, the next step will be taken by October 19, if the 14-day rolling average is around five new cases per day.
How do I know if I live in metropolitan Melbourne?
The local government areas under stage four lockdown include Banyule, Hume, Moreland, Bayside, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Boroondara, Knox, Nillumbik, Brimbank, Manningham, Port Phillip, Cardinia, Maribyrnong, Stonnington, Casey, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Darebin, Melbourne, Whittlesea, Frankston, Melton, Wyndham, Glen Eira, Monash, Yarra, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Yarra Ranges and Hobsons Bay.
This map from the Victorian government also highlights metro Melbourne.
I live in one of these areas! What am I allowed to do?
You should stay at home unless you are shopping for essential food or supplies, attending work, school or childcare (where permitted), caring for others or receiving care, or participating in exercise or outdoor recreation. If you are shopping, you must be within 5km of home, and you may bring other members of your household with you to shops if necessary. You may leave your home to exercise or for outdoor recreation (picnics, reading a book in the park, fishing, etc) up to two hours a day, and you must stay within 5km of home or your workplace, if you are permitted to go to work.
If you have tested positive, you cannot leave your house for exercise. You must stay at home.
I live inside metro Melbourne but work outside of it (or vice versa).
You can cross the boundary between metro Melbourne and the rest of Victoria for three reasons; for work, if you cannot do so from home (and work in a permitted industry); for shopping or essential supplies; or for medical care or caregiving.
Can I go hiking or fishing?
Yes, you may, if you have a fishing spot or hiking trail within 5km of your home or workplace. You may not travel further than 5km from your home (or workplace if you work in a permitted industry) for outdoor exercise or recreation.
How far can I go from my house to exercise?
Follow TLC's advice: Stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to. You can exercise for two hours a day, and you must be within 5km of your home. Permitted workers can also exercise within 5km of their workplace. They should carry their work permit while doing so.
Can I meet a friend to exercise? How about a picnic?
If you are all within 5km of home (or a permitted workplace), gatherings of five people from no more than two households are permitted. Those five people can exercise, hike, fish, enjoy a picnic or just chill in a public place. Gatherings at home are not permitted, including in front or back yards. Everyone should wear masks and keep 1.5 metres apart from others, and both households must be from metropolitan Melbourne.
What about shopping for food and supplies? My favourite Thai place is across town.
Sorry, you're just going to have order food from the Thai place near your house or cook for yourself. You can only travel 5km from home for supplies. You should travel to the nearest place to buy essential food and supplies if there isn't such a location within 5km from your home (i.e. the nearest chemist is 6km from home).
You may go shopping with someone else from your household if necessary, but try to limit movement as much as you can.
What about businesses – will they be open?
Across Melbourne, restaurants and cafés can only open for takeaway or delivery; pubs, bars, clubs and nightclubs are closed; beauty and personal care services are closed (including hairdressers); libraries and community centres are closed; casinos are closed; and indoor sports centres, pools and gyms are closed (outdoor pools will be allowed to reopen from September 28).
Retail stores such as Bunnings can only open for click and collect, with many retail stores closed completely. Check out the full list of shut venues here.
Who can go back to work?
It depends what industry you work in. For those who work in supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies and post offices, you are able to go to work, with more industries permitted to return to work on September 27. Find out more on via the Victorian government website.
Do I have to wear a mask?
If you are in Victoria, you have to wear a mask or face covering every time you leave your house. It must cover your nose AND mouth, and a face shield is not sufficient. That means you must wear a mask while going for a walk, buying food, picking up takeaway, going to and from your car (but not in your car). If you're ordering drive-through or talking to a cop or anything else you might do in a car that involves other people, you should be wearing a mask. You also need to wear a mask in an Uber, taxi and on public transport, whether you are the driver or passenger.
If you're doing vigorous exercise (like running) or it's completely impractical (like if you're swimming at the beach), you can take it off during the exercise, but you must put a mask on when you're finished.
If you live in an apartment, you should also wear a mask if you're using shared spaces (like hallways, lifts and foyers).
If you don't have enough masks, you can make one yourself out of materials like socks, or you can buy one from a local maker. Make sure you wash your masks after each use (you can chuck 'em in the washing machine or hand-wash in very hot water) and dry them outside in direct sunlight if you can.
Can I drop off food or a birthday present to a friend? Is there a limit to how far I can go to do that?
Yes, Time Out understands dropping off food or supplies (including presents) falls under the category of "caregiving". Don't abuse this, though. If you really need to drop something off at your gran's (maybe some masks or her shopping) that's fine, but don't galivant around town giving care packages to all your mates. The gist, if you're not picking up on it by now, is that you should not leave your house unless you absolutely have to.
Are hairdressers open?
Hairdressers will be allowed to reopen from October 19 at the earliest (subject to public health advice). If you're desperate for a cut, some hairdressers share their tips for home cuts here.
When can I get on the beers?
If the numbers continue to fall, hospitality venues can open for predominantly outdoor seated service from October 19, with limits on groups and density of patrons in place.
Can I hold a wedding?
Yes, but only with the celebrant, couple and two witnesses present.
When will I be able to visit a gallery, cinema or museum?
Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues can start reopening (with density limits) from sometime in November, public health advice permitting.
Can I still move house in or out of the lockdown areas?
Moving house is still allowed. Regarding real estate, auctions must be done online and inspections must be done privately.
What about couples who don’t live together?
Intimate partners can still visit each other. Check with DHHS for more clarification on what they can do.
Can I have people over?
If you live alone, you may nominate one person to visit you at home. That person does not need to be within 5km of your home, but you can only have one person in your 'social bubble'. If you have a partner, you must choose either to visit your intimate partner or the person in your social bubble, not both.
If you do not live alone, you will not be able to have visitors over until October 19 at the earliest. Even then, you will only be able to nominate a single household of up to five people to visit your home.
If you break these rules and have an illegal gathering in your home, you're looking at a fine of up to $5,000 per person.
Can you go on public transport?
Yes, public transport is still operating and it is still an essential service to many in the Victorian community. There may be some limits to overnight services.
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.
Can you go on a holiday within Victoria?
For Melburnians, no. They will likely be able to resume travel for tourism purposes in November. Regional Victorians can currently travel for holiday purposes, but only within other regional areas in Victoria – not Melbourne.
Can you go on a holiday outside of Victoria?
Definitely not, even if you live outside of metro Melbourne. NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the Victoria-NSW border is now closed to Melburnians. Victorians are also not permitted to travel to the ACT, and any travellers granted an exemption will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Queensland and South Australia also will not allow those from Victoria to enter.
But I live in Wodonga – can I still cross the border?
Andrews has conceded there were a number of shared facilities between people living in NSW-VIC border towns like Echuca-Moama and Albury-Wodonga. Many people in these towns live on one side of the border but go to work on the other. These residents will be able to continue crossing the border but will need to apply for a permit first.
Permits are available via Service NSW and are now accessible. Anyone found crossing without a permit faces an $11,000 fine and six months in jail.
I'm a Victorian resident currently in NSW, will I be able to get home?
Yes. Victorians currently in NSW will be able to re-enter the state.
Are there any other reasons that Victorians can travel to NSW?
Like with other states that have closed their borders to Victoria, NSW can grant travel exemptions for exceptional circumstances. For instance, if you were moving interstate or if you had to care for a sick family member. If you are granted an exemption, you will still need to self-isolate for 14 days.
When will the border between Victoria and NSW reopen?
No reopening date has been set yet. Speaking on the border closure on Monday, June 6, Gladys Berejiklian said: "The numbers today are concerning because it shows the replication factor [is] increasing in terms of how many are passing the virus on to others. Until that dies down, I don't think the border closure will change."
This means the border closure will likely be in place until Victoria's case numbers drop.
What about the borders between Victoria and other states? When will they reopen?
Here's what we know so far. Victoria's island neighbour Tasmania has announced its borders will be closed until at least December 1. Queensland's premier has said that it's unlikely the sunshine state will reopen to Victorians before Christmas. The Northern Territory has closed its borders to Victorians indefinitely. Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT have not announced when their borders will reopen to Victoria.
What is 'Covid normal' and when do we get there?
Covid normal means resuming life similar to pre-pandemic times, but with a few caveats. You can expect safety measures such as density limits and hand sanitising to remain, and many venues will still require your details for contract tracing measures. Covid normal will be reached in Victoria once we've had no new cases for 28 days and have no active cases. This will occur sometime (at least 28 days) after November.
Read on: How to be safe and hygienic on Melbourne public transport.