Melbourne Restrictions and COVID-19 Lockdown Explained

With COVID-19 cases rapidly rising across the state, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a slate of tough new laws that significantly restrict movement. The new Melbourne stage 4 restrictions and coronavirus lockdown rules are seemingly changing every day, so residents in metropolitan Melbourne are understandably confused. To make sense of the new Melbourne stage 4 restrictions, we’ve put together this guide to staying safe. For those outside of Victoria, it’s worth taking note, this could soon be a nationwide reality.

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Melbourne Stage 4 Restrictions Explained 2

The news comes after an identified Holiday Inn cluster grew to 13 cases overnight, spreading beyond the hotel quarantine program. The latest five new cases linked to the Holiday Inn include a hotel worker and spouses of other hotel workers. The spike has seen the Victorian government plunged the city into another lockdown.

“We are having cases test positive – and in rapid time we get notified of that positive test result – by the time we find that case as positive, they’ve already infected their close contacts,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in a press conference on Friday.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Melbourne stage 4 restrictions and lockdown measures.

What is the Melbourne Stage 4 Lockdown?

Introduced across the entire state of Victorian, the new stage 4 restrictions relate directly to contraction prevention. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that the new restrictions have been brought in the reduce community transmission of the deadly COVID-19 virus that decimated the region last year.

When Does Lockdown Start?

The stage four lockdown restrictions to come into force at midnight on Friday 12 February 2021. At present, the lockdown is set to remain in process for five days, however, that initially could swell depending on the impact of the Holiday Inn cluster, which currently stands at 13. Under these new rules, there will only be four reasons for Victorians to leave home:

  • shopping for essential items
  • essential work
  • permitted education that cannot be done from home
  • exercise for up to two hours a day with people from your household

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Can I Leave My House?

As part of the stage 4 restrictions, certain limitations have been placed on community interaction and social outdoor activities. Under the guidelines, you are only permitted to leave your house for four reasons. These include;

  • Shopping for food and essential items – Shopping for food and necessary supplies must be within 5km distance from your home, except if the nearest supermarket is further than 5km. Additionally, one one person per household can go shopping each day.
  • Care and caregiving – This includes managing shared custody arrangements, using a babysitter, leaving home to care for animals housed elsewhere, visiting someone in an aged care home and visiting someone in hospital.
  • Daily exercise – Exercise must take place within 5km of home, and must be in metropolitan Melbourne. Exercise is limited to one hour, once per day.
  • Work – Employers must support workers to work from home if possible.

As in previous lockdowns, employers must support you to work from home if this is a viable and suitable option.

Additionally, exemptions are granted for those at risk of family violence, those needing to apply for an intervention order, and those who are required to attend court or a police station. You can also leave your house to access medical services. This time around, that explicitly includes leaving your house to give blood. Access to medical services is unrestricted: you can access them anywhere in Victoria.

Which Businesses are Open?

Like the initial spate of lockdown protocols we endured earlier this year, Melbourne has returned to streamlined business operation. Under stage 4 restrictions, only essential businesses are permitted to open, meaning many of the state’s vibrant business scene has been forced to temporarily shut up shop. Last year, Premier Andrews outlined business restrictions as pertaining to three categories. They are as follows:

  • Businesses largely as normal – This includes shops like supermarkets, butchers, takeaway food outlets, pharmacies and greengrocers.
  • Reduced total output – Businesses may be instructed to reduce output, resulting in fewer shifts and less contact between workers.
  • Businesses that will close – Non-essential businesses that can’t move to a work-from-home model will be forced to stop operating.

Here is a list of businesses in Melbourne that will remain open;

  • Supermarkets
  • Grocery stores
  • Bottle shops
  • Pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Banks
  • Newsagencies
  • Post offices

Which Businesses are Closed?

As with previous announcements, all non-essential services have closed. Here is a list of business that are expected to cease for the next five days;

  • Retail
  • Some manufacturing
  • Administration

According to the Victorian government, these businesses will all need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shut down safely. “Retail stores not listed above will be permitted to operate contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place,” the government says. Hardware stores can remain open onsite, but for tradespeople only.

Similarly, some of the industries that are set to stay open must do so on reduced limitations. This includes mandated reductions to the number of workers onsite.

  • Meat industry – This workforce will be scaled back to two-thirds. This will apply to abattoirs in Melbourne and across the state.
  • Warehousing and distribution centres – In Melbourne, these will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time.
  • Construction sector – This will also move to pilot-light levels. For major construction sites, that means the absolute minimum required for safety – but no more than 25 per cent of the normal workforce onsite. Small-scale construction will be limited to a maximum of 5 people onsite.

As per the Victorian Government, “these workplaces that are continuing to operate will also have additional requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.”

You can also learn more about non-essential services and non-essential businesses here.

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What are the Face Mask Rules?

As you may well have read by now, face masks are now mandatory within the state of Victoria. As of midnight on Friday 12 February 2021, it is a requirement that residents in local government areas across the state wear face coverings in public.

Under the Victorian stage 4 restrictions and lockdown measures, all people must wear a mask or covering whenever leaving the house. There are a few exceptions, however, it must be pointed out that these exceptions are extremely rare. These include;

  • People with a medical reason are exempt, as are children younger than 12.
  • Those who have a professional reason, but those people will still be expected to carry a face covering at all times “to wear when you can”.

You can check out our guide to buying a face mask in Australia here.

Are Restaurants Open?

The Melbourne stage 4 restrictions have not completely closed restaurants just yet, however, the industry has reverted back to previous measures. Residents will not be able to dine in a restaurant, however, the businesses are allowed to trade for takeaway and delivery orders.

Will the Shops Be Open?

As mentioned above, only the essential businesses and essential services will be open to the public in Melbourne. This means that shopping centres, markets and other retailers will be allowed to trade, however, they must abide by the strict social distancing and density laws put in place by the state government.

As a general rule, you will only be allowed to go to the shops to buy food and essential items. If you need help with shopping, or need to help a friend or family member, you can go shopping together but remain 1.5m apart. As with other restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs will be closed and bottle shops will be takeaway only.

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Can I Exercise Outdoors Under the Melbourne Stage 4 Restrictions?

Under the new Melbourne stage 4 restrictions, you are still permitted to exercise outdoors, but you will not be allowed to leave metropolitan Melbourne to do so. This means long bush walks or leaving Melbourne to go fishing or surfing are no longer permitted. Further to this, exercise can only happen within 5km of home, and must be in metropolitan Melbourne. The activity is also limited to one hour, once per day.

Swimming pools, playgrounds and gyms will be shut, and community sport will also cease. It is allowed that you exercise with one other person, including members of your household. You can also hire a personal trainer.

Are Schools Closing in Melbourne?

Outlined in Premier Andrews’ Friday address, schools will close for the five day period. Students are expected to return to at-home learning for this timeframe, however, schools will remain open for vulnerable children or children of essential workers. Additionally, child care and early childhood centres will remain open.

Can I Have Visitors to My House?

As of the time of publication, Victorians are unable to have visitors over to their house or to attend another person’s house unless it is for the purpose of giving or receiving care. You are allowed to visit your partner, provided you are in an “intimate personal relationship”, thus avoiding the infamous UK ‘bonking ban’.

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What are the Rules Around Weddings and Funerals?

The introduction of Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions means that funerals can involve no more than 10 people as of Friday 12 February 2021. All religious gatherings and ceremonies are not permitted, and public gatherings have been cancelled.

Can I Travel to/From Melbourne?

If Melbourne is your primary place of residence, you are unable to leave the region, even if it is to attend a holiday home or second domicile. If you are not from Melbourne, you cannot travel there unless it’s for work or study, medical care and caregiving, shopping for food or supplies. Exercise is not a valid reason to travel.

What Happens if I Break the Stage 4 Lockdown Rules?

At the moment the implications for breaking the rules remain financial draining. Premier Andrews has said police will monitor traffic seeking to leave metropolitan Melbourne and officers would also enforce the restrictions within the city. The Victorian police force has been granted permission to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 to businesses. That being said, the rolling and rapidly changing conditions could see that figure rise.

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General FAQs

What is the fine for breaking Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown rules?

The Victorian police force has been granted permission to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 to businesses.

When do the stage 4 restrictions for Victoria take affect?

The new Melbourne stage 4 lockdown restrictions begin in the metropolitan region from Sunday August 2 and will last for a total of six weeks. Under the plan, the Melbourne lockdown is expected to end on Sunday 13 September, however, the result is highly dependent on the rate of community contraction.

What time is the Melbourne lockdown curfew?

The Melbourne stage 4 restrictins introduce a curfew for all Melbourne residents between 8pm and 5am. You are only permitted to break this curfew if you are travelling to and from work, giving or receiving care, at risk of family violence, needing to apply for an intervention order, required to attend court or a police station, or giving blood.