Victoria’s road back from restrictions: Your questions answered – The Age

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Victorians took another step on their path out of lockdown on Friday when Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton announced an edict that prevented residents from removing their masks to drink alcohol outdoors was being rescinded.
Melburnians have also been busy exploring their new 15-kilometre travel limits and city golfers are back on the greens.
Premier Daniel Andrews and COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar prepare to update the media on Monday.Credit:Scott McNaughton
However, as residents look forward to additional freedom of movement when the next double-dose vaccination targets are met, many questions remain about exactly what Victorians will be allowed to do in coming months.
October 26 and November 5 loom as dates when more restrictions are set to fade into history, as the focus shifts away from lockdowns to widespread vaccine coverage.
We’ve attempted to answer common reader questions. This article will be updated as new information becomes available, so please check back for fresh updates.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and CFA crews monitor fires and begin back burns between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in East Gipplsland in 2020.Credit:Darrian Traynor
Regional property owners in Melbourne or any other locked down area of the state can now apply for a permit that allows them to enter other parts of the state to prepare a second property for fire season under a new scheme announced in early October.
The permits come into effect from October 11 and will be issued by the local council where an individual’s secondary property is located.
Applicants will need to provide information about where the property is, the type of work that needs to done and the planned date of travel.
The current Melbourne restrictions with continue to apply to anyone travelling to a property in a non-locked down area of the state. Full details of the scheme can be found here.
Melburnians could be allowed back at the dentist for a regular check-up by the end of October.Credit:iStock
Dentists in Melbourne and other locked-down areas in regional Victoria are currently only allowed to treat patients with urgent needs, according to the Department of Health’s authorised work guidelines. A regular check-up is off the cards for those in lockdown.
However, routine appointments are available (with density limits) in regional areas and will likely resume in Melbourne once the state reaches phase B of its reopening plan on or around October 26 when 70 per cent of residents over 16 are fully vaccinated.
This is absolutely correct. Under current health restrictions people are permitted to meet for a picnic in the park, provided they do not exceed the five-person limit (per day).
Face masks remain mandatory for outdoor activities in most circumstances, unless you are exerting yourself, for instance running or cycling.
Yes. The government restrictions allow for intimate partners to visit each other even if they live more than 15 kilometres apart, provided they do not exceed the five-person-per-household limit.
No. As of September 29, Melbourne residents can once again play golf. Accessing the facility must be contactless and patrons must wear a mask at all times. However, you can’t travel outside your 15-kilometre zone for a round.
Under current restrictions, hairdressers in regional Victoria are open with a density limit of one person per four square metres and a patron cap of 10 (excluding staff). Face masks can also be removed for a short time if required.
However, hairdressing and other personal beauty services are not currently permitted in Melbourne, and that includes at the park.
Once 70 per cent of Victorians are fully vaccinated, hair salons will reopen, with up to five fully vaccinated patrons allowed in the store. This will increase to a cap of 150 vaccinated patrons (in line with density requirements) from about October 26.
Physical recreation will resume indoors in Melbourne once the 80 per cent double-vaccination target is reached (expected on or close to November 5). This will be subject to a density limit of one person per four square metres, with an indoor cap of 150 people.
Indoor gyms – along with play centres and indoor skate parks – are already open with a 10-person limit in those areas of regional Victoria that aren’t in lockdown.
At the moment the reasons for a metropolitan Melbourne resident to travel to regional Victoria are quite limited.
A resident of metropolitan Melbourne can only travel to regional Victoria to tend to another property for emergency maintenance. This does not include preparation activities, unless such work is urgent or essential. Health authorities said they would provide updates about bushfire preparedness in the near future.
Travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will happen when 80 per cent of Victorians are double-dose vaccinated.
Once Victoria hits that vaccination target, there will be no restrictions on reasons to leave home and people will be able to travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria for any reason.
At this stage it looks like you will have to wait until about November 5, when the state is projected to hit that 80 per cent full-vaccination mark. Once the state hits 70 per cent, those from Melbourne will be able to travel 25 kilometres from their home.
For those with family members interstate, the Victorian government has flagged that fully vaccinated residents might be exempt from domestic travel restrictions once that 80 per cent target is reached, in line with the national plan.
Retail will reopen for in-store service in Melbourne once 80 per cent of the eligible population is double-vaxxed. Each shop will have to follow density guidelines of one person per four square metres.
Retail outlets in regional Victoria have already reopened, but density limits apply. Masks remain mandatory at all times.
According to Australia’s national plan, once the country reaches its 80 per cent two-dose target, all restrictions on outbound travel will be lifted for vaccinated Australians, while travel bubbles (like the one currently on pause with New Zealand) will potentially be extended to countries such as Singapore.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he expected broader international travel would resume before the end of the year.
Fully vaccinated residents should be exempt from all domestic restrictions once the 80 per cent two-dose vaccine target is reached, according to the national COVID plan.
Further to that, Mr Andrews said he would “do everything” he could to avoid lockdowns – and therefore avoid interrupting travel – once the state hits its full vaccination targets.
But Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce noted that “in the Doherty (Institute) plan, there is still the capacity … that there will be targeted initiatives for explicit areas, if and when required”.
In Melbourne, veterinary clinics, pet stores and mobile pet-grooming services are considered authorised workplaces, meaning they can open under current COVID-19 restrictions.
This means that if your regular groomer is offering contactless drop-off and pick-up of your pet, and the service takes place outside, Fido might be able to get his fur in order right now.
Health Department deputy secretary Kate Matson announced the change in early September.
“Grooming will be permitted for non-urgent and regular grooming needs, as long as it’s conducted outdoors and is contactless, and conducted solo,” she said.
If the rollout of Victoria’s road map continues as expected, a travel limit of 25 kilometres for those in metro areas will apply from when 70 per cent of the state’s population is double-dosed to when 80 per cent have had both jabs.
Only when 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated will limits on intrastate travel be removed. So, unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until about November 5 to pick up your new set of wheels.
Golf is already permitted in regional Victoria, although the number of people in each group cannot be more than 10 and face masks are required.
Golf clubs in Melbourne reopened on September 29. However, play must be in groups of two (for players who aren’t fully vaccinated) or up to four for those who are fully vaccinated (from a maximum of two households).
The Northcote Golf Course was opened up as a recreational space during last year’s Melbourne lockdown. Credit:Wayne Taylor
Players must also wear masks and live within 15 kilometres of the club.
After conflicting advice from health authorities, the latest update from Golf Australia is that clubs can open their toilets to players so long as QR codes are scanned before entry and the facilities are cleaned at least twice a day.
Golfers at Albert Park Golf club as restrictions lifted last month.Credit:Wayne Taylor
These abbreviations initially had us scratching our heads too. They relate to the density quotient for certain shops and facilities. ‘DQ4’ means that there can only be a maximum of one person per four square metres, while ‘DQ2’ means a maximum of one person for every two square metres.
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