After 116 days in lockdown, Melbournians have this afternoon finally received the news they have long waited to hear. From 11.59pm on Tuesday, October 27 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne will ease, marking the city’s next significant step towards reaching ‘COVID-normal.’
Speaking at Monday afternoon’s press conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said, “Now is the time to open up. Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian for staying the course. Now is the time to thank every single Victorian family for being guided by the data, the science and the doctors and not letting our frustration get the better of us but instead proving equal to this wicked enemy, indeed better than this wicked enemy.”
After an outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs threatened to further derail plans to re-open, many breathed a sigh of relief with news that Melbourne had recorded zero new overnight cases for the first time since June. Melbourne’s 14-day average is now sitting at 3.6 new cases per day, with only 91 active cases in Victoria.
The changes announced include a full reopening of the retail sector. With cafes, restaurants and pubs to also re-open with a maximum of 20 patrons inside, with a further 50 patrons seated outside. Beauty and healthcare will also re-open, provided a mask can be worn.
Outdoors gatherings, like the picnics which have fast gained popularity in Melbourne over recent weeks, will no longer be limited to members of two households and will now allow a maximum of 10 people.
From 11.59pm on Tuesday, the four reasons to leave home will also be scrapped, however for now the 25km travel limit will remain in place.
“This time around, the time has really dragged. Keeping our confidence up and staff morale [high] has definitely been harder these last few weeks,” Gooden told Star Observer. “We are lucky to have several staff on JobKeeper. But keeping them busy and focused has been quite draining. When the five kilometre rule was relaxed we got to welcome lots of regulars back for takeout and coffee. Finally, we have met the targets, and are so keen to see and seat our customers. Our community is what has kept us sane. And made us appreciate the little interactions we have each and every day.”
The next major easing of restrictions is scheduled for November 8, when the ‘Ring of Steel’ separating metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, will finally be lifted, allowing free travel across the state.