When COVID-19 cases once again sprung up in Victoria around the beginning of August, the state was still very much hoping to squash the virus with its "go hard, go early" approach to restrictions.
But earlier this month, with case numbers climbing, the Victorian government joined NSW in abandoning dreams of 'COVID-zero'. The state is now focused instead on limiting case numbers while driving up rates of vaccination.
So what does this mean for the future of Melbourne's sixth lockdown? And how soon will restrictions be lifted?
First, a reminder: What are the rules for Melbourne's lockdown?
Metropolitan Melbourne and Shepparton are currently under the toughest restrictions in place in the state.
This means residents cannot leave their home, except for the following essential reasons:
- Shopping for necessary goods and services, which must be done within 5km of your home.
- Caregiving or compassionate reasons, including medical care or to get a COVID-19 test.
- Attending authorised work (with a permit) or permitted education.
- Exercise, which is permitted once a day for two hours within 5km of your home.
- To get a COVID-19 vaccination (provided the distance travelled, and the time taken is no more than is absolutely necessary).
A stay-at-home curfew is also in place for Metropolitan Melbourne (which is home to the bulk of cases) and applies between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Other key restrictions include:
- Face masks must be worn indoors and outdoors whenever you leave your home if you are aged 12 and over.
- Only one person per household per day is permitted to leave home for essential goods and services.
- Weddings are not permitted, however, funerals can proceed with up to ten people, plus those required to conduct the funeral.
- If you live alone or are a single parent you can create a ‘single social bubble’ by nominating one other person to be a part of your bubble.
- You can exercise with one other person, plus dependents.
- All authorised workers must carry a permit that is certified by their employer whenever they are travelling to work and attending work.
- Childcare, early education centres and schools are closed, except for vulnerable children and children of authorised workers.
What about the restrictions in regional Victoria?
While regional Victoria, minus Shepparton, is no longer in lockdown, some key restrictions still apply:
- Face masks are mandatory indoors and outdoors for people aged 12 and over.
- Private gatherings in the home are not permitted.
- You can see friends and family outdoors in a public place in a group of up to 10 people.
- Offices can permit staff to attend on-site for work, up to a capacity of 25 per cent or 10 people, whichever is greater.
- Primary school is open for children in Prep to Grade 2 only.
- Secondary school is open for Year 12, students completing VCE units 3&4 and students in their final year of VCAL, VET or the International Baccalaureate.
- Restaurants and cafes can open for seated service for a maximum of 10 patrons indoors and a maximum of 20 outdoors.
- Beauty and personal care services are open with a maximum of 10 patrons.
- Indoor entertainment facilities, including theatres, cinemas and galleries, are open with a cap of 20 people per indoor space.
- Religious gatherings and ceremonies are allowed with no more than 20 people per venue.
- Weddings are limited to 10 people at a venue, including the couple and two witnesses. The celebrant and a photographer are in addition to the cap.
- Funerals are allowed with up to 20 people (or 5 people if held at your home, provided all persons in attendance live in Regional Victoria). This limit doesn’t include infants under 12 months of age, or the people required to conduct the funeral.
Full details of restrictions in Melbourne, Shepparton and regional Victoria are available on the Victorian Government website.
Why are case numbers still rising in Melbourne despite the lockdown?
Victoria reported 445 cases of community transmission on Tuesday, the majority in Melbourne's northern and western suburbs. It's another grim high for the current outbreak.