Victoria coronavirus restrictions are poised to change today — here’s what to expect
Well Victoria’s five-day snap coronavirus lockdown is behind us, the Holiday Inn outbreak seems to be under control — so what is going to happen next with the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on February 12?
Premier Daniel Andrews has made it pretty clear he will be dialling back the remaining stage-four restrictions to those in place before Christmas.
Here’s what we expect to hear from the Victorian Premier today.
The state can be ‘quite positive’ about changes
Yesterday, Mr Andrews said there would be meetings early today between the Chief Health Officer, his officials and government ministers to make the decision about whether or not it was safe to lift the remaining restrictions.
And he seemed optimistic that there would be an announcement before lunchtime today.
“I think we can be quite positive about making some announcements,” he said.
“I won’t commit to it today [Thursday] because the advice has to come from the Chief Health Officer.”
Those restrictions included limits on the number of people who could attend private homes, gatherings and rules on mask wearing in public.
The changes will then likely take effect at 11:59pm on Friday.
Visitor limits to homes, mask rules may change
Victorians will likely be able to invite more people to their homes from midnight on Friday.
The current limit is five and it will likely increase to 30, with no limits on the number of households they come from.
Before Christmas, public gatherings of up to 100 from any number of households were allowed.
The rules around mask-wearing were tightened at the start of the lockdown and were likely to return to what they had been.
You probably won’t need to wear them outdoors, but you must have one with you.
And mask-wearing will likely still be required at supermarkets, shopping centres and on public transport.
Hospitality venues and restaurants returned to take-away only for the five days of lockdown but are now open again.
They will likely be allowed to have more customers subject to the pre-Christmas density requirements.
Offices are currently allowed to have up to 50 per cent of the workforce on site. It is not clear when a plan to lift the cap to 75 per cent will be announced.
The Holiday Inn cluster seems to be under control
Why are we changing now? Because it’s been two week since the most recent case of coronavirus linked to the Holiday Inn cluster became infectious.
So it’s unlikely new cases will emerge now.
Twenty-two people were infected when a guest in hotel quarantine at the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn quarantine hotel used a nebuliser, which is believed to have led to the spread of the virus within the hotel.
A number of staff members, their close contacts and other residents in the hotel were infected.
There are currently 16 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria and there have been no new cases detected in the past six days — meaning the outbreak seems to be under control.
International flights still on hold
Victoria has not been accepting international flights throughout this recent outbreak — at a time when the National Cabinet had agreed to try to allow more overseas travellers back into the country.
The rationale has been that Victoria’s system, which uses police rather than security guards, is more expensive to run and there are limits to how many people can quarantine safely.
Mr Andrews wrote to the Prime Minister a fortnight ago saying he could not say when that “pause” in flights would be lifted.
It’s not clear if Mr Andrews will have anything to say about that today.