Melbourne has entered stage four of lockdown after weeks of stay at home orders failed to reduce transmission of coronavirus in the city. The tough new restrictions are aimed at limiting movement and will see businesses and services close down or reduce capacity for the next six weeks. But with a myriad of changes taking place, stage four of lockdown has left many people unsure of what they can and can’t do.
From Sunday 2 August, the Metropolitan Melbourne area entered stage four restrictions. This meant a number of things but most notable was a curfew that required everyone to be in their residence between 8pm and 5am every evening unless they had a reasonable excuse.
Further announcements also saw the closing of non-essential businesses and restrictions on how far you could travel for exercise or shopping as well as how often. It’s left a lot of people with questions about whether what they’re doing is permissible and what they’ll need to change.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the common questions related to the changes.
What are the main changes with Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions?
As mentioned, there are a few considerable changes made under stage four restrictions. Firstly, there’s an enforceable curfew between 8pm and 5am every day meaning you’ll need to be at home during those hours.
Valid excuses for being outside at any other time include:
- Shopping for necessary goods and services
- Providing or receiving care and health care
- Going to work if you can’t work from home
- Visiting an intimate partner
What’s this 5 kilometre radius rule?
With using exercise as an excuse, you’ll still need to ensure you remain within five kilometres of your residence. This is also required if you’re out shopping but Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) states you can travel to your nearest supermarket if it’s outside of a five kilometre radius.
In terms of exercising, there are a few extra limits in place. You can meet with a friend to exercise provided neither of you need to travel more than five kilometres but you will also need to limit your exercise to once a day and for only one hour. It’s also recommend you keep a 1.5-metre distance between both you and your friend and there should be no hugging, kissing or shaking of hands.
While the DHHS says you can visit an intimate partner, it does not specify whether they need to be within the five kilometre radius.
You can use this government tool to measure your five kilometre radius to make sure you’re not breaking the rules.
Can I take the dog for a walk?
The DHHS says you can take your dog for a walk or toilet break but it should be limited. That means it’s recommended you use your exercise break time or allocated shopping trip to take the dog out for a walk to avoid making two separate trips.
Are there limits on who and when you can shop?
You will need to go to a shop within a five-kilometre radius, or your nearest supermarket if it’s outside that radius, but other limits are in place too.
The new restrictions also mean only a single person from your household can go and get “necessary goods and services” and it’s limited to once a day.
The idea is that you can’t have multiple people within the same house going and doing multiple trips a day.
What’s the deal with masks now?
For those within the Melbourne region, the mask and face covering rules remain the same — they’re mandatory in public.
The changes, however, mean those in regional Victoria will also now need to wear masks in public from 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August. The region outside of Melbourne, including Mitchell Shire, will be under stage three ‘stay at home’ restrictions from that time, meaning leaving the house is only permitted for four key reasons:
- to shop for food and essential goods or services
- to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
- to exercise or for outdoor recreation with your household, or one other person
- for work or study, if you can’t do it from home
Can I visit someone inside the Melbourne zone if I live outside it?
As Melbourne is under stage 4 and regional Victoria will soon be under stage 3 restrictions, the relevant rules will apply to each.
The DHHS clearly says there are few reasons to leave the house but if visiting someone inside the Melbourne zone is related to personal or health care or involves an intimate partner, it is permitted.
If it’s just a social visit, the rules are a bit tougher — it’s not allowed until restrictions are eased.
“Please use common sense and limit the number of people you see in person right now. It is safer to connect with friends and family using phone calls, social media and video calls,” the DHHS’s site reads.
What happens if I break a restriction without a valid excuse?
If you breach one of the restrictions, the Victorian government has announced there is an on-the-spot fine of $1,652. Fines for not wearing a mask or face covering in public are also at $200.
On Tuesday 4 August, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced there would be a $4,659 fine introduced for anyone found in breach of an isolation order.
Those with isolation orders — people who have tested positive or have symptoms and are awaiting test results — will need to isolate in homes or accommodation for 14 days and police officers will be undertaking door-knocks to ensure compliance.
If someone is repeatedly breaching the order, for example going to work while they have the virus, Andrews said an offender could be taken to court for a maximum penalty of up to $20,000.
The new restrictions are tough and will take a big toll on those under them over the next few weeks but, with any luck, the region will hopefully start to see positive results soon.