COVIDSafe summer ahead

VICTORIA is primed for a ‘COVIDSafe Summer’ after the State Government announced its latest lifting of COVID-19 restrictions at the weekend.

Facemasks are no longer mandatory in some settings, although government officials have encouraged people to use their judgment and wear them if necessary.

Facemasks are now only mandatory while on public transport, in taxis or ride-share services, and in large retail venues such as supermarkets, shopping centres and department stores.

Wearing a facemask is still strongly recommended both indoors and outdoors if people are unable to keep 1.5 metres between them and others.

Visitor limits have been increased to 30 people to a home each day, giving a green light to family Christmas gatherings. There is no limit on the number of households visitors can come from, but front yards and backyards are considered part of the home under the restrictions.

Up to 100 people from any number of households can meet outdoors in a public space such as the park or the beach, while weddings, funerals and religious gatherings will have no caps on the number of guests or attendees.

The only limiting factor for weddings, funerals and religious gatherings will be a requirement of two square metres of floor space per attendee for each service.

Businesses across all sectors will be allowed to open, with COVIDSafe plans required for any onsite operations.

Office workers will move to a 50 per cent return to onsite work by January 11, at which time the government will consider public health advice and further possible changes.

Up to 25 per cent of Victorian public service workers will return to onsite work by January 11, moving up to 50 per cent by February 8.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the new COVID-19 requirements would be in place until at least the end of January, giving Victorians more certainty about the summer months.

“Until we have a vaccine – and even then, until we have a widely distributed vaccine – some aspects of these rules and restrictions must continue to be part of our reality,” he said.

“At the same time, and because of the efforts of every Victorian, we’re able to end this year with far fewer limits on what we can and can’t do.

“These are the restrictions that will see us through the summer months – and living as normally as we can until we get a greater sense of what the rest of 2021 will look like.

“While masks are no longer mandated in most circumstances, the evidence is clear wearing a face covering makes a real difference in slowing the spread of the virus – so masks continue to be recommended indoors or outdoors when distancing can’t be maintained.”