Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled the state's 'Roadmap For Reopening' plan through the COVID-19 pandemic yesterday.
The plan included a staggered rollout which includes the lifting of the state's current curfew, public gatherings, retail restrictions being lifted and the return of the entertainment sector over the coming months.
So what does this actually look like for the state?
First & Second Step
All entertainment venues are to stay closed throughout the first two steps of the plan, which includes the 13 September stage 4 lockdown restriction adjustment - curfew moving later from 8pm to 9pm, the introduction of the 'single social bubble', and an increase in public gathering restrictions (increased to 2 people or a household that can meet outdoors for two hours maximum). The second step will commence from 28 September (pending average daily case requirements are met), but venues will still remain closed at this stage.
This is where things start to change for Victorian venues. From 26 October, Victoria will "move from Second Step to Third Step if we reach <5 new cases (state-wide average over previous 14 days) and <5 cases with unknown source (state-wide total last 14 days)". This is a significant change too, with the curfew to be lifted, public gatherings increased to a maximum of 10 people and the introduction of a 'household bubble'.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen to patrons with "predominantly outdoor seated service, increased group limit of 10 and density limits" and retail is expected to reopen.
Entertainment venues will begin to reopen, with restrictions in place. The details are still limited but the State Government has specified this as "outdoor venues and events, subject to pre-approved plans".
The last step in the plan (ahead of the ongoing "COVID Normal" stage) offers a very big change in entertainment restrictions, allowing "indoor and outdoor venues open with density quotient and patron caps. Staged return to events with seated spectators. Large events treated on an individual basis based on requirements and epidemiology at the time". This is set to come into effect from 23 November but will only happen "if we reach no new cases for 14 days (state-wide)".
This step also sees improvements for hospitality, which includes "indoor (group limit of 20 and seated service, cap 50 patrons), outdoor dining subject to density quotient". Public outdoor gatherings will increase to 50 people, while home visits can increase to 20 people at a time. Retail will also totally reopen at this stage.
The final, ongoing stage of the plan doesn't have a specified date like the others, rather that the state will "move from Last Step to COVID Normal if we reach no new cases for 28 days (state-wide), no active cases (state-wide) and no outbreaks of concern in others states or territories".
It's expected that all restrictions will be lifted at this point, which means that all entertainment venues can reopen with "safety measures and record-keeping" in place. Hospitality will also operate under this practice.
What happens if our case numbers are better earlier than these dates?
This has been the question on the lips of most Victorians since yesterday's announcement. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton addressed this at a press conference this morning saying that, "They are indicative dates".
"There's potential for that," he said of reopening early. "We should always be in a process of continuous review."
For more information on the reopening plan, head here.