By Jackson Russell –
Victorians will be able to gather at homes in groups of five and outdoors in groups of 10 starting tomorrow, plus activities such as golf, fishing and hiking can resume.
Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday announced the first step of easing COVID-19 restrictions.
Under the new rules, which take effect from 11.59pm tonight, there is a new, fifth reason to leave the house – to visit family and friends.
Groups of 10 will be able to participate in outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, hiking and golf as long as physical distancing and hygiene guidelines are observed.
Kilmore Golf Club secretary Helen Dennett said the club’s members were delighted to be able to swing a golf club.
“By nature of the game, social distancing is implied so it shouldn’t be a big hassle. We’re hoping to get greens fee players on the course and play competitions under modified rules,” she said.
“As far as the club itself is concerned, as many greens fee players as possible are welcome because we haven’t had any income for two months.
“Come Wednesday, there will be people playing and we’ll just have to make sure we obey the rules.”
Mr Andrews said weddings would now be able to have 10 guests and up to 20 people would be able to attend indoor funerals and up to 30 at outdoor funerals.
Community facilities will re-open to host support services such as youth groups or drugs and alcohol support groups, as long as not more than 10 people attend.
However, Mr Andrews encouraged workers who can work from home to still do so for the rest of May.
Camping or overnight stays are still not permitted.
Professional sport is closer to resuming, with players able to begin training from tomorrow.
The new rules will be in place until 11.59pm on May 31 before possible further changes are made for June.
Mr Andrews said this was the first ‘safe, cautious and appropriate’ step to get back to as normal a Victoria as possible.
“If we see people continue to follow the rules, then just as we’ve had options to move to these rules, we may have more options in June to open more of the economy and state up, something that approaches much more of a normal Victoria than any of us have experienced in weeks,” he said.
“There will be a gradual opening of the economy but each step, particularly the first step, has to be cautious, safe and appropriate to the situation.”
No changes will be made to how cafes and restaurants operate.
Mr Andrews said the feedback from businesses was that opening services to a limit of 10 patrons was not feasible.
“My thinking is if we wait these three weeks, if we open beyond takeaway, we might not have to stick to a limit of 10,” he said.
“If we have further assurance, we can take a bigger step for cafes and restaurants and make sure they’re viable.”
The changes come after more than 160,000 people were tested for COVID-19 in Victoria in the past two weeks, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the states’ road maps for easing restrictions on Friday.
While step one of Mr Morrison’s plan included the reopening of playgrounds, pools, retail, cafes and restaurants, the Victorian Government is holding this off until June.
Step two of the Prime Minister’s plan includes gatherings of up to 20 people, the reopening of gyms, cinemas, galleries and beauty parlours and the return of organised sport.
Step three includes gatherings of up to 100 people, most workers returning to the workplace, resumption of interstate travel and the reopening of pubs and clubs.