REGIONAL Victoria will likely have a different set of rules to Melbourne as the state's lockdown is extended for at least another week.
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said with no community transmission in regional Victoria this week, regional restrictions are proposed to begin easing from 11.59pm tomorrow night.
The next 24 hours will confirm whether this change can go ahead.
The 'ring of steel' in place during 2020's extended lockdowns will not be used to enforce the different restriction levels.
"At the end of another seven days, we do expect to be in a position to carefully ease restrictions in Melbourne, but there will continue to be differences between the settings in Melbourne compared to regional Victoria," Mr Merlino said.
In regional Victoria it's proposed the five reasons to leave home will be removed and there will be no limit on the distance you can travel from home.
Regional Victorians can only travel to Melbourne for a permitted reason and must follow Melbourne restrictions once there.
The changes proposed for regional Victoria include:
- You can leave home for any reason
- Travel within regional Victoria is allowed
- All schools to reopen to face to face learning
- Outdoor gatherings can have 10 people
- Hospitality is open for seated service only, with only 50 people allowed and density quotient of 1 person per 4 square metres
- Retail can reopen where masks can be worn
- Religious services open to 50 people
- Weddings resume with 10 people, funerals resume with 50
- Junior sport resumes, adult sport resume training. Indoor sport is not allowed.
- Outdoor pools and libraries open to 50 people
- Offices will be capped at 50 per cent
Business that are able to open in regional Victoria must check IDs to ensure they are not servicing people from Melbourne.
QR check-ins will also apply to more venues, including supermarkets and retail.
Visitors are still not allowed to homes, aside from intimate partners.
Mask rules remain the same everywhere.
It has been confirmed that Melbourne people will be banned from regional Victoria until after the Queen's Birthday long weekend (June 12, 13, 14).
Mr Merlino said the variant currently in the community was "quicker and more contagious than we have ever seen before".
He said vaccinations were the best way to protect against contracting the virus, but only two per cent of the population are fully vaccinated.
"If we let this thing run its course, it will explode. We've got to run this to ground because if we don't, people will die," Mr Merlino said.
"And if that happens, it's our most vulnerable. It's our parents, it's our grandparents, it's Victorians with underlying conditions or compromised immunity."
With wastewater detections in Bendigo and Axedale and new exposure sites in Anglesea, Mr Merlino said there was still more work to do in regional Victoria.
We are working closely with the Department of Health to test, trace and isolate the contacts of a newly-identified positive case. Investigations are still proceeding but the person has provided initial information about exposure sites. More info here: https://t.co/WVuv9R2tZO— Barwon Health (@BarwonHealth) June 2, 2021
Melbourne will stay in lockdown for a further seven days, with an expanded 10 kilometre radius.
The state government announced a further $209 million for businesses on top of the $250 million package announced earlier this week.
That doesn't include regional businesses, Mr Merlino said.
"We will also be able to announce a package of support for regional tourism operators and accommodation providers in coming days, and that is a reflection of the impact of the continuation of different settings in Melbourne and regional Victoria for a little while, and that does include the Queen's Birthday long weekend," he said.
"We have also renewed our request to the Commonwealth to activate a JobKeeper-style support for Victorians who have been impacted by these restrictions."
He said the virus is spreading between people within 'seconds'.
"What we're seeing now is is something else - something even more serious. At least one in 10 current cases have caught this virus from a stranger.
"Just walking past someone you've never met can mean the virus is jumping to a whole new network."
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said police will be out in force ensuring Melbournians don't unlawfully travel to the regions.
"We know that people who are highly motivated to break the rules will have a go anyway and they will be tracked down through roving patrols and the work of Victoria Police," he said.
"They will also be managed by a highly motivated regional Victoria that does not want people outside of the region who are not entitled to be there to be coming and accessing services or events."
Victoria records six new local cases
The state has recorded six new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 overnight as talks of a lockdown extension continue.
It comes as new exposure sites were identified in both Victoria and NSW, after a newly-positive case returned from NSW to Melbourne early last week.
There were no new cases reported in hotel quarantine on Tuesday as the overall number of active cases across the state rose to 67.
There were 20,585 vaccine doses administered yesterday and 51,033 test results received.
The NSW South Coast is on high alert after a person from Melbourne who was later diagnosed with COVID-19 visited the area late last month.
Extra coronavirus testing clinics have been set up after Victorian health officials notified NSW Health the person visited Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach and Vincentia on May 23 and 24.
The person had some symptoms on May 25, after driving back to Melbourne on May 24, and tested positive on Monday, May 31 - almost a week later.
Victorian health authorities are working closely with NSW Health to test, trace and isolate the contacts of a newly-identified positive case.— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) June 1, 2021
The individual is from Victoria and travelled to New South Wales, returning to Melbourne on 24 May.
A final call on extending Victoria's "circuit-breaker" lockdown could be handed down within hours after the state government and health officials reportedly discussed options Tuesday night.
The state government has not made an official announcement on extending the lockdown past its original ending of 11.59pm on Thursday, June 3.
A five-day vaccination blitz will also start on Wednesday to get more private aged care and disability workers vaccinated.
From June 2 to June 6, workers and private sector aged care facilities and the residential disability sector will be given priority access to walk-in vaccination hubs around Victoria between 9am and 4pm.
Workers with proper ID will get a priority lane if they turn up to vaccination sites.
A full list of COVID-19 exposure sites is available here.
Australian Associated Press
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