Victorians to be allowed up to 20 people in their homes under ‘cautious easing’ of restrictions

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Victorians will be allowed to have up to 20 people in their homes and stay overnight at private residences and tourist accommodation from June 1, under an easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Camping will also be allowed at state and national parks, but communal facilities like kitchens and bathrooms will remain closed.

Victorians will be able to celebrate weddings with up to 20 people in addition to the celebrant and couple, and up to 50 people at funerals.

Up to 20 people will be allowed at other religious ceremonies, in addition to those required to perform the service.

« It’s not so much about ‘stay home’, but it is absolutely about ‘stay safe’, » Premier Daniel Andrews said.

In an early concession ahead of the June changes, Victorians will be able to use outdoor playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor gym equipment from Tuesday — the same day some children return to state schools.

But those who can work from home will be urged to continue to do so, to prevent the amount of contact that occurs when colleagues share bathrooms, kitchens and office spaces.

Mr Andrews said that, along with the cumulative impact of the « cautious easing » of restrictions, would be reassessed in June.

« I know it’s inconvenient … but if you have been working from home you must keep working from home throughout June, » Mr Andrews said.

The Premier announced the changes as it was revealed two new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Victoria overnight.

The state’s total rose to 1,603, a net increase of one after an earlier case was recorded as a duplicate.

Mr Andrews said the resumption of overnight stays would be « critically important » to the tourism and hospitality industry, which had been hit hard by the shutdown.

« Hotels, motels, other important accommodation venues — particularly in regional Victoria where we know tourism is such an important part, and particularly bushfire-affected communities — that sector will be able to reopen from June 1, » he said.

Public libraries, some entertainment and cultural venues and zoos will also be reopened to smaller crowds.

Up to 20 people will again be able to swim at pools, while community sport will be allowed to resume with the 20-person cap in undivided spaces, provided physical-distancing measures are observed.

Beauty services like nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours will be able to reopen with up to 20 customers per space. They will be required to keep customers’ contact details.

Mr Andrews last week announced cafes, restaurants and pubs will be open to 20 patrons from June 1, provided physical-distancing guidelines were met.

A timeline for the reopening of clubs is not yet known, with Mr Andrews saying it will be difficult to manage physical-distancing rules without seating and with the presence of alcohol.

« [Clubs] would have to look very, very different, and it will be a matter of us engaging with that sector to see whether they want to open up under those rules, » he said.

The Andrews Government has faced criticism for the speed at which restrictions have been eased. Other states allowed broader changes earlier this month.

The Premier again linked the gradual lifting of restrictions to the state’s aim to prevent the pandemic from getting out of control as it had in countries overseas.

« There are examples in other countries where they opened too much, too quickly, and now they’ve had to reintroduce even tougher rules, even harder lockdowns, » he said.

« We’re doing this in a careful and cautious way, that’s the only way to do it. »

Mr Andrews said the state would look to further relax restrictions from June 22 if transmission rates remained low and testing rates remained high.

From that date, indoor fitness and recreation facilities are scheduled to open with up to 20 people per space and up to 10 people per group or activity at any one time.

Restaurants, cafes, galleries and museums will then be allowed to host up to 50 people and, for the first time, cinemas and theatres will reopen.

« And for those eager to hit the slopes, the ski season will open slightly later this year on June 22, » Mr Andrews said.

The Premier said all the sectors affected by the announced easing of restrictions would be comprehensively consulted in coming weeks about the precautions needed as life returned to some sense of normality.

« If we just have everybody returning to business as usual in those indoor workplaces then we will just see this virus spread and all of our good work will be frittered away, » he said.

Throughout the announcement, Mr Andrews stressed widespread testing of every Victorian with even the slightest coronavirus symptoms was « critical » to enabling the easing of restrictions.

« The more people that get tested, the more options we have to not make changes based on guesswork, but instead to make changes based on what the data is telling us.

« With so few community transmissions and so much testing, we are now able to further ease restrictions in many different sectors. »

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the state had undertaken more than 420,000 tests since they began at the start of the year.

A target of 150,000 new tests to be completed in the window between the last easing of restrictions on May 13 and the end of the month has already been exceeded, with 174,000 tests one week ahead of schedule.

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-24/coronavirus-restrictions-ease-in-victoria-daniel-andrews/12280666

Victoria, Coronavirus, Daniel Andrews

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