Freedom coming

Wangaratta has to wait until regional infection rates drop
WEB Daniel Andrews pe c7 20200906
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Sunday, September 6, 2020. Melbourne will remain under coronavirus lockdown until at least October 26 but some restrictions will be eased from next Sunday. (AAP Image/Erik Anderson) NO ARCHIVING

COVID-19 restrictions on people living in the Rural City of Wangaratta are set to ease from Sunday, September 13 under a new roadmap towards ‘COVID Normal’ living.

But despite zero cases since April, Wangaratta residents will have to wait until coronavirus numbers drop in problematic regional centres like Geelong (19 active cases), Bendigo (4) and Ballarat (2).

From this 11.59pm this Sunday regional Victoria will go to the ‘second step’ but it will have to wait until the daily average of cases is less than five, or less than zero within the last 14 days before it goes to ‘step three’.

Premier Daniel Andrews envisages that regional Victoria will be able to go to ‘step three’ within weeks.

However in the case that Geelong case numbers remain constant Mr Andrews has flagged that it could be placed into a separate basket away from the rest of regional Victoria.

“The Geelong corridor is of some concern to us and while we haven’t redefined that it remains part of regional Victoria for the purposes of these rules,” he said.

“It is fair to say that Geelong is on close watch and we will monitor the number of cases in the Geelong area.

“We wouldn’t want a situation if the pre-conditions for moving to another set of rules for all of regional Victoria were to be held back because of case number in just one area, namely the Geelong corridor, we may have to treat Geelong separately.”

Key points in step two include leaving the home only for school or work (if these cannot be done from home), care or caregiving, to purchase essentials, or exercise.

Public gatherings up to five people from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors for social interaction (infants under 12 months of age are not included in the cap).

Visitors to the home will involve a “single person bubble” with one nominated visitor if living alone/single parent (all children under 18) Childcare is open to all children.

Schools return to onsite learning from term 4 with safety measures.

Outdoor exercise and recreation allowed.

Restaurants and cafes open for takeaway and delivery only.

Retail open, with density and other restrictions, hairdressing open.

When stage three comes in public gatherings up to 10 people outdoors will be allowed and visitors allowed at home from one other household (up to five people).

Under the third step hospitality will open for predominately outdoor seated service only, and all retail will open, except personal care (hairdressers open).

Specific industry restrictions will be in place under these steps and this includes a colour coded map ranging from closed, heavily restricted, restricted and open with a COVID safe plan.

A ‘last step’ will be triggered after November 23 and when there are no new cases across Victoria for 14 days.

COVID Normal will be activated subject to health advice, when there are no new cases for 28 days and no active cases (state-wide) and no outbreaks of concern in other states and territories.

The news isn’t so bright for metropolitan Melbourne which will have to start at ‘step one’ which also includes industry specific restrictions.

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