Covid-19 Restrictions to Be Eased in Melbourne

Residents will soon get to stay at hotels and travel freely between urban and rural Victoria.

The skyline of Melbourne’s CBD and the Yarra River. (Photo: xavierarnau/iStock)

Though the global pandemic situation doesn’t look promising—with strict lockdowns being reimposed across Europe and record numbers of newly confirmed cases in the United States—it isn’t all doom and gloom. Authorities in the Australian state of Victoria have just announced that a slew of Covid-19 curbs will be relaxed from 11:59 p.m. on Sunday (November 8); the entire region has gone seven consecutive days with zero new coronavirus infections and deaths, and only 15 active cases remain in Victoria as of today.

According to 9News and other Australian media outlets, the rule restricting travel to within 25 kilometers of one’s home will be dropped, while the so-called “ring of steel” separating metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will also come down, with residents statewide free to go in and out of Australia’s second-largest urban area.

Under the relaxed Covid-19 measures, bars and restaurants in Melbourne will be allowed to serve up to 40 people indoors and 70 outdoors; recreational facilities like gyms and indoor swimming pools can hold up to 20 people. Non-contact sports for people aged 18 and under are once again permitted at indoor venues, so long as social distancing protocols are in place. Staycations are also possible, as hotels will be able to take bookings for members of a single household and intimate partners. Religious services can be conducted with a maximum of 50 people (and one faith leader) outdoors, while the number of congregants should be capped at 20 for gatherings held indoors.

State Premier Daniel Andrews also confirmed today that Victoria is poised to join the Trans-Tasman “travel bubble” from Monday (November 9), and flights from New Zealand are being given the green light to touch down at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport starting on that date. As in Sydney, incoming Kiwis will not be required to quarantine on arrival.

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