Retail and hospitality businesses in regional Victoria will start reopening again from Wednesday night, as the state begins easing coronavirus restrictions outside of metropolitan Melbourne.
After several days of signalling regional Victoria may be able to open up sooner rather than later, Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday that hospitality businesses would be allowed to open for outdoor dining and all retailers would be able to trade again.
“Today is testament to the determination of regional Victorians. A determination to not only get these numbers low – but to keep them low,” Andrews said.
“It’s also good news for every Victorian, wherever they live.”
The move will see regional Victoria move from step two in the roadmap — which was achieved several days ago – to step three, triggered by the 14-day average number of coronavirus cases falling below five.
Hospitality businesses in regional Victoria will now be able to serve up to 50 patrons outdoors, under an updated “two square metre” density limit.
Tables will need to be at least 1.5 metres apart, and cleaned after every customer.
All retailers will be allowed to re-open, including beauty and personal care services businesses, which will be allowed to take customers provided face coverings are worn at all times.
Travel between areas in regional Victoria will also be allowed again, with the four essential reasons for leaving home being lifted in these areas.
Residents from Melbourne will still be barred from traveling into regional Victoria.
The easing is good news for businesses in regional Victoria, but will also pave the way for a planned easing in metropolitan Melbourne in the coming months.
Officials are expected to trial outdoor dining arrangements in these areas, and apply lessons to reopening plans for businesses in higher density urban environments.
“These arrangements will also pave the way for Melbourne’s return to dining – for when we too can safely take that next step,” Andrews says.
Andrews said on Tuesday that Melbourne was “on track” to reach the second step of its reopening roadmap by September 28, with the 14-day average case number now at 52.9.