Victorians will notice small changes to their otherwise strict lockdown when it hits midnight on Monday.
Harsh stage 4 lockdowns had been drafted to end on Sunday, but Premier Daniel Andrews last week announced case numbers needed to be driven even lower before this happened.
“If we go too far too soon, the modelling also tells us we’d be on track for a third wave by mid-November,” he said last Sunday.
“That’d mean we’re back to where we are now, maybe even worse. Days, weeks, months of sacrifice – gone. Confidence for business – destroyed. More families suffering. More lives lost.
“It’s why, even as we release a road map for reopening, it’s got to be done in safe, steady and sustainable steps.”
But while stage 4 restrictions have been extended in Melbourne, there will be some changes that come into effect from midnight tonight.
Metropolitan Melbourne will remain in stage-four restrictions but with some small changes as a first step on the roadmap out of lockdown.
Curfew will be eased slightly to allow people to stay out an extra hour. It will become 9pm to 5am. Before it had been 8pm to 5am.
People can still only leave their homes during daylight hours to exercise, shop for essential items, caregiving or medical treatment, or essential work.
Restrictions for outside exercise have eased slightly, meaning people can be outside for two hours a day instead of just one hour. That can be a continuous period, or two smaller blocks.
Single people will have some relief, with one nominated visitor now allowed into a single person, or single parent home.
Melburnians are now looking to September 28 as the date of further restrictions easing, where more than 100,000 workers will go back to work in construction, manufacturing, and maintenance workers.
Dog groomers will also be able to reopen on September 28, with beauty and hair salons looking to October 28 as the day for their reopening.
In regional Victoria, restrictions will ease even further from stage three to stage two, with up to five people able to gather together in outdoor public places with a maximum of two households.
Outdoor pools and playgrounds in regional Victoria will also reopen, and religious services can be conducted outside with a maximum of five people, plus a faith leader.
The reasons for leaving the home remain the same: to exercise, shop for essential items, caregiving or medical treatment, and essential work.
There will be no limit on exercising outside for regional Victorians who have had to limit their workouts to two hours per day, and no curfew is imposed.
Regional Victorians are being told to work from home if they can, but construction, manufacturing, warehousing and wholesale, postal services, repairs and cleaning services can open with a COVIDSafe plan. Meat and seafood processing remains heavily restricted.
“By moving from stages to steps, we’re giving Victorians a long-term plan for our path out of restrictions and into COVID Normal,” Mr Andrews said.
When regional Victoria reaches five or less cases on average over the last 14 days and none with an unknown source, a third step of reopening will begin.
Restrictions will ease further in Melbourne on September 28 if the average daily rate for the previous 14 days is 30-50 a day.
At this point, a curfew would remain in place from 9pm to 5am, however up to five people, including children, from a maximum of two households would be able to meet outdoors for social interaction within a 5km radius from a person’s home.
At this point, a staged return to school will begin for primary and secondary students for Term 4. Prep-Year 2 and VCE will return first.
Restrictions will ease even further on October 26 for Melbourne if the average daily case rate is five or less a day for the previous 14 days statewide and less than five with an unknown source.
Curfew would be lifted and there will no longer be restrictions on leaving the home, with gatherings of 10 people outdoors allowed.
November 23 is the final step, and will only come into effect if there have been no new community cases of COVID-19 recorded in Victoria in the 14 days prior.
Under the plan 50 people will be able to congregate outside, and 20 people are allowed in a home together.
A COVID-normal is expected to be reached when there have been no new cases in the state for 28 days.