First restrictions to be eased in Melbourne revealed

 

Melbourne's stage four lockdown would be extended for a fortnight with limited tweaks but no clear timeline for many businesses to reopen, according to top-secret leaked documents outlining the government's draft plans to ease restrictions.

The Herald Sun can reveal the changes currently contemplated after September 14 are allowing two hours of exercise per day, split up into two sessions, and giving single people and single parents the right to have a nominated visitor at home.

The 8pm-5am curfew would remain in place and widespread business restrictions would continue for another fortnight, according to a preliminary draft of the government's road map.

The bombshell documents, obtained by the Herald Sun, show the government is working towards bigger changes from September 28.

Melbourne's curfew would then be lifted and people would be allowed to socialise outdoors with five people from a maximum of two households.

Childcare would reopen without permits and a phased return to school would begin - subject to further health modelling - in Term 4. Similar changes would be made in regional Victoria along the same timeline.

But there is no definitive date for retail, hospitality or entertainment venues to reopen with case numbers to guide that.

 

A shopfront for lease on Chapel St during stage four restrictions. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
A shopfront for lease on Chapel St during stage four restrictions. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

 

Under the road map, additional onsite work would be permitted in some industries after September 28, although strict rules would remain on worker numbers.

Some specialist contractors may be cleared to do business from September 14, and a traffic light system is in the works to explain how particular industries can function in each stage of the road map.

Daniel Andrews has vowed to unveil the plan on Sunday after a week of consultation with key stakeholders.

The Premier's crisis council of cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss the evolving road map and the preconditions for easing.

Further talks are planned on Thursday about the thresholds set to progress through each stage of the road map, based on new epidemiological modelling, and more data is also being compiled about how industry limits can be eased.

In order to move to stage two, the documents say authorities want a daily average of fewer than five new cases over two weeks, with less than three cases from an unknown source over that period, although this threshold remains subject to change.

The last time Victoria recorded an average of 5 new cases per day over 14 days was in June. The public messaging to Melburnians in stage two would be "go outside", with rules adjusted to allow public gatherings of 10 people, outdoor dining at hospitality venues, limited travel within Victoria.

There would be no time limit on exercise, with indoor facilities open for kids and outdoor activities allowed in groups of 10.

The one person per household limit on shopping would also be eased in stage two, and Melburnians would not be ­required to stay as close to home.

Australia is in the grips of the worst recession since World War II. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
Australia is in the grips of the worst recession since World War II. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

Opposition frontbencher Ryan Smith told the Herald Sun on Wednesday night it was "no wonder Daniel Andrews was so desperate to extend his emergency powers".

"These documents clearly show Victorians his only plan is to keep us locked down for as long as possible," Mr Smith said.

"The government's continued failure to contain the virus has resulted in a burden that has translated to businesses closed, a lost year of learning for our children and mental health issues that friends and family will suffer from for months, if not years."

"Victorians would rightly feel let down by a government who dangled the carrot of eased restrictions, yet have been planning for these restrictions to continue for months to come."

 

According to the documents, mask wear will be a fixture for months to come. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
According to the documents, mask wear will be a fixture for months to come. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

 

According to the documents, Melbourne would move to the "stay aware" stage one after two weeks without any new cases.

A phased return to offices for those working from home could begin, indoor dining would be allowed and gathering limits would only apply to large groups. All intrastate travel would also be approved as galleries, museums, amusement parks and entertainment venues are cleared to open.

The draft road map indicates a series of principles will continue for months, including wearing face coverings, keeping 1.5m apart, maintaining good hand hygiene, staying home from work when unwell and prioritising outdoor activities.

The documents say the final elements will be refined this week.

Reaching a COVID-normal society would require no active cases for 28 days, although that threshold is subject to change.

At that point, Melbourne would move to stage zero.

There would be no restrictions on gatherings or visiting hospitality venues, wedding and funeral attendance would not be capped, and state border controls would only be activated in the event of outbreaks.

Organisers of events would be expected to keep records of attendees.

 

Originally published as First restrictions to be eased in Melbourne revealed

Herald Sun front page Thursday September 3. Download the digital print edition
Herald Sun front page Thursday September 3. Download the digital print edition

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