MELBOURNE, July 7: The last few weeks have shown us all how delicate the gains Victoria (Australia) has made against coronavirus really are.
In the last two weeks, around 12 million Australians in four states and territories have been subject to lockdowns after the fast-moving Delta variant made its way silently out of quarantine facilities and into our communities.
The efforts of the Victorian people helped drive simultaneous Delta and Kappa outbreaks down to zero, but the situation across Australia is a reminder that none of us can afford to be complacent.
The good news is that our state is in a stable position – and that means we can ease restrictions.
With the slower than forecast rollout of the Commonwealth vaccination program, reduction in returning traveller caps not yet in effect across the country and outbreaks interstate continuing to pose a risk to Victoria, the advice from our public health experts is that we ease those restrictions carefully and cautiously.
From 11:59pm on Thursday 8 July, restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne will be brought into line with regional Victoria, which means all COVIDSafe settings will apply state-wide.
Masks will continue to be required in indoor, public-facing settings unless an exemption applies, but they will no longer be required at schools for students and staff, or at your workplace if you don’t interact with the public – for example, if you work at an office or a factory.
A range of venues across Melbourne will now be able to apply the same density limits that apply in regional Victoria: one person per two square metres – including hospitality, gyms and physical recreation venues, community facilities, creative studios and places of worship – provided a COVID Check-in Marshal is on-site to make sure people are checking in.
Dancefloors will be allowed with a COVID Check-in Marshal, but no more than 50 people can be on the dance floor at any one time.
Victorians need look no further than the outbreak across our border to know the risks of coronavirus spreading at big gatherings inside the home. That’s why the limit on private gatherings will stay the same, with up to 15 people able to attend a home per day.
Crowd numbers will increase at approved public events. Outdoor stadiums can welcome 75 per cent of their capacity, up to 40,000 people, and indoor stadiums can open to 75 per cent of their capacity, up to 7,500 people. Theatres will also open to 75 per cent of their capacity, up to 2,000 people.
These settings will be in place for 14 days, subject to assessment of epidemiological risks by our public health teams. Comprehensive information can be found at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au when new settings are in effect.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Martin Foley
“Today’s changes show just how far we’ve come – thanks to the hard work of all Victorians we’re able to once again have the same settings in place for the whole state.”
“We’re seeing across the country just how fast-moving the Delta strain is – which is why we need to remain vigilant and follow the directions to protect the gains we’ve made.”