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Two people wearing masks and sitting on benches in a park
Photograph: Dollar Gill on Unsplash

What you can and can’t do in Victoria right now

Confused about Victoria’s current restrictions? Here are some answers

Written by
Rebecca Russo
,
Nicola Dowse
,
Cassidy Knowlton
&
Rushani Epa
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Life in Victoria looks very different to the vibrant cultural hub we are used to enjoying, with lockdown extended yet again. It can be difficult work out just what is currently allowed within Melbourne and Victoria, so we've done our best to outline what Melbourne's current lockdown updates are, in terms you can understand. 

For a full breakdown of Victoria's current restrictions, visit the Victorian government website

What are the current rules?

All LGAs in metropolitan Melbourne are currently in lockdown. Ballarat re-entered lockdown at 11.59pm, September 15 for a week. Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast also re-enters lockdown from 11.59pm, September 19. This lockdown will also last at least seven days. 

Metropolitan Melbourne has a curfew of 9pm, residents can only leave home for very specific reasons, and masks must be worn everywhere, inside and out.

Regional Victoria (with the exception of Ballarat) is not in lockdown, but some restrictions may apply, including density limitations. 

When can I leave my house?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: There are SIX reasons to leave your home. They are:

-for essential food and supplies within 10km of home
-for care and caregiving
-to work if you're an authorised worker
-to exercise for a maximum of four hours, within 10km of home
-to get vaccinated
-to socialise outdoors (read on below for the specifics about gathering outdoors)

You may leave your home at any time in an emergency, including to escape domestic violence.

Regional Victoria: You can leave your home for any reason.

So can I have a picnic in Melbourne?

Yes! Here are some of our favourite picnic spots in Melbourne. Those in other regional areas in lockdown can also picnic - the specifics on how many people can attend and how long the picnics can go for are outlined before.

Can I drink alcohol at a picnic in Melbourne?

Ah yes, the question on everyone's lips. You may remember early in Victoria's sixth lockdown that removing your mask to drink alcohol outside was banned due to a number of congregations throughout the city. 

Unfortunately that rule is still in place, meaning that while you can gather outdoors for a picnic and legally remove your mask to eat or drink non-alcoholic drinks, you cannot remove your mask outdoors to drink alcohol. We know, we know. Maybe just enjoy one of these local wine or cocktail delivery services at home instead? 

If you live in a regional area not in lockdown, you can drink booze at your picnic (so long as it doesn't breach the local liquor licencing laws of course).

Is there a curfew in place?

Melbourne: Yes, a curfew is in place from 9pm to 5am every day. No midnight picnics.

Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: These areas are under lockdown, but a curfew is not in place.

Regional Victoria: No curfew is in place. 

How far can I travel from home?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: You can travel 10km from home for essential food and supplies, exercise or to socialise. If the nearest essential store is further than 10km, you should travel to the nearest location you can get your supplies at.

You can travel beyond 10km if you're an authorised worker, for care or caregiving or to get vaccinated. You cannot travel into regional Victoria from either Melbourne or Ballarat to get vaccinated, however. 

Don't know your 10km? This interactive tool shows you how far you can travel from home.

Regional Victoria: Travel as far as you like intrastate, you free-range cowboys. However, there you cannot enter Ballarat or metro Melbourne unless you have an authorised reason.

Can I get vaccinated yet?

YES, YES YOU CAN. And you should. All Victorians aged 16 and over can now get vaccinated. Victoria is hoping to have at least 70 per cent of Victorians vaccinated with at least one dose by September 23. At current, it looks like we're on our way to beating that target, too.

Here's the list of current vaccination hubs in Victoria, and here's more on how to get vaccinated in Melbourne. Those who are 16 and 17 must get a Pfizer vaccine, those over 60 must get an AstraZeneca vaccine, and those between 18 and 59 can choose either Pfizer or AstraZeneca. With a shortage of Pfizer, however, premier Dan Andrews has begged Victorians to consider AstraZeneca if that is the right vaccine for them.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton has repeatedly said: "The best vaccine you can get is the one you can get today." 

Are there walk-in vaccination centres in Melbourne?

Most Victorian state vaccination centres are by appointment only, so you must book before going in. Occasionally, pop-up vaccination centres may be established as needed, and these may accept walk-ins. Drive-through vaccination centres also require a booking – call 1800 675 398 to book or book online.

You can also get vaccinated at some GPs and pharmacies – it's worth checking in with your local healthcare services to see if you can get vaccinated faster that way. 

How can I get tested?

You can find your nearest testing site via the Victorian government's coronavirus website. The map allows you to distinguish between walk-in, drive-through and testing sites that require a booking. 

You must get tested as soon as you experience any symptoms, no matter how mild. These include:

-chills or sweats
-sore throat
-fever
-cough
-runny nose
-shortness of breath
-loss or change in sense of taste or smell

Other symptoms can include headache, muscle aches, a stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. For more information, head to the coronavirus website.

You can travel further than your 10km to get tested but you cannot leave areas in lockdown to get tested.

When do I have to wear a mask?

All Victorians over 12 must wear a mask indoors and outdoors, except if they are in their own homes, the home or their intimate partner or have an exemption. This also includes wearing a mask outdoors when buying a takeaway coffee or meal.

Masks cannot be removed to drink alcohol outside, but they can be removed to eat or drink non-alcoholic beverages. 

It is also recommended that children of primary school age wear a mask in indoor settings if possible.

What are the current exposure sites in Melbourne and Victoria?

You can see the current list of Victorian exposure sites by visiting this page on the Victorian government's coronavirus website. 

Can I have people over?

No, private gatherings continue to be prohibited in both across Victoria. Single bubble and intimate partner rules from past lockdowns apply.

Can I send my children to childcare?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Childcare services are restricted to vulnerable children and the children of authorised workers. A permit system has been implemented. In-home childcare (like babysitting) is also permitted if all caregivers are authorised workers. Single parents, regardless of authorised worker status, can also access childcare. 

Regional Victoria: Childcare is open to all.

How many people can gather outdoors?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: You can leave home to socialise in outdoor public places across areas of Victoria in lockdown. You can do so for up to four hours a day.

If you are fully vaccinated you can gather in groups of five (yourself plus four others). Everyone must be fully vaccinated and you must still stay within your 10km bubbles. Those five people can be from a maximum of two households. 

If you are not fully vaccinated you can still meet up, but only with one other person.

Regional Victoria: You can gather in groups of ten in outdoor, public places like parks or beaches.

Are outdoor facilities accessible?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Playgrounds are open but can be used by children under 12 with only one parent or carer present. Adults will not be able to remove their masks to eat or drink near playgrounds. All playgrounds will also have QR codes for checking in. 

Outdoor gym equipment and skateparks are also open. Once Victoria hits an 80 per cent single dose vaccination rate (around September 26), you'll be able to gather in groups of five fully vaccinated adults for recreational activities (like sport) outside,

Regional Victoria: Outdoor facilities, including playgrounds, exercise equipment and skate parks, are open.

Can I go to work or go to school?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Only authorised workers or students with permits can go to work during lockdown across Victoria. If you are permitted to go to work, you must wear a face mask while there. You are required to have a permit to do so. You can apply for a permit here

Certain high-risk industries will be reduced during lockdown. This includes construction, meat processing and supermarket distribution centres.

Regional Victoria: You can return to work if you're unable to work from home. Offices can have either 25 per cent of staff, or ten workers, on site (whichever is greater). 

What's this about QR check-ins at work?

You must check in using a QR code at work and at workplaces. Find out more here. You must also check-in via QR code or manual sign-in at every venue you visit across Victoria, except for private residences.

Are restaurants and bars open?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: No, hospitality venues like restaurants, cafés and bars can only open for takeaway. Visit our comprehensive list of Melbourne restaurants currently offering takeaway to help support local businesses.

Regional Victoria: Hospitality venues can reopen with patron caps.

Are other shops open? What about retail?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Non-essential retail is closed but can operate click and collect or delivery services.

Regional Victoria: General retail can open, again with caps. 

Can I get a haircut?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Sorry, no. Rock that lockdown mullet. Or learn how to cut your own hair

Regional Victoria: Yes, hairdressers and personal and beauty services can operate. However, any service that requires a mask to be removed cannot be performed at present.

Can my dog get a haircut? I.e. are dog groomers open?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Dog groomers can open for regular (i.e. non urgent) grooming needs as long as they can operate solo, outside and in a contactless manner. Welfare grooms can also take place.

Regional Victoria: Groomers can open.

Are galleries, museums, theatres and other cultural and entertainment venues open?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: No.

Regional VictoriaYes, with patron caps and density limits. Check with the venue in question.

Can I go to the cinema?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: No. But cinemas like the Lido and Classic cinemas offer at-home streaming services.

Regional Victoria: Yes, with patron caps and density limits. Check with the venue in question.

Are gyms open?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: No, indoor gyms remain closed. Personal trainers, however, can conduct training sessions so long as they are outdoors and only training a maximum of two people at any time (not including the trainer). Otherwise, here are some online exercise classes you can try. 

Regional Victoria: Gyms and other indoor physical recreation venues can open, with ten people indoors (20 outdoors). Pools can also open, with 20 people indoors and 50 outdoors.

What about the footy?

The AFL is being played without spectators. You can watch it on the telly instead. 

Will we still get the AFL Grand Final public holiday?

The AFL Grand Final has been moved to Perth, but no announcement has been made about cancelling the public holiday. Given that Victoria still got the holiday during last year's lockdown (which had the final move to Brisbane), it's safe to say we will probably still get a day off in 2021 as well.

Can weddings and funerals happen?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Weddings cannot occur unless for end of life or deportation reasons. Funerals are limited to ten mourners, plus staff required to conduct the service.

Regional Victoria: Weddings can have ten people (which includes the couple, plus the two required witnesses). The celebrant and one photographer are not included in the cap, nor are infants under 12 months. Funerals and other religious ceremonies can have 20 people.

Can I travel around the state and stay overnight?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: No, even if your bubble extends into regional Victoria, you can't enter the regions unless for an authorised reason. A reminder that you can leave your home in an emergency, including to escape domestic violence.

From November 5, Melbourne and regional Victoria are expected to fall under the same restrictions, leading the way for instrastate travel to resume.

Regional Victoria: If you want to go on a holiday in Victoria, you now can. You can only stay in tourist accommodation within your household, or with an intimate partner or single bubble nominee. For example, that means you can't book an AirBnb for you and your mates if you live in separate houses. 

Can I travel interstate?

Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast: Not for a holiday, though you can still move interstate or travel for business if you are an authorised worker. There may be restrictions on you entering other states though, so check with the state you're travelling to first.

Travellers from NSW and any other red zone cannot enter Victoria except:

-To acquire necessary goods and services, including medical care
-For compassionate reasons
-For paid or voluntary work
-For education (including child care)
-To get a Covid-19 vaccination
-For sport or exercise at a club or recreation centre (excluding alpine regions)

From 1pm August 12, you will need a permit to move across this border bubble. 

Regional Victoria: You can travel interstate, but it is advised you do not travel to any area that is designated a red or extreme zone. You should still check with the state you're travelling to, as they may have restrictions on regional Victorian entering. 

When will restrictions ease further? 

A roadmap for the gradual easing of restrictions in Melbourne and other areas of Victoria was announced September 19. Here's everything you need to know about the roadmap.

When will Melbourne's lockdown end?

Drum roll please: lockdown is expected to end in Melbourne on October 26.  

Where can I get more information?

Head to the Victorian government website for further information and if you have any questions call the hotline on 1800 675 398.

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