As case numbers continue to decrease – with today‘s new infections the lowest in weeks – Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will announce around lunchtime how his state will ease its way out of some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world.
While we‘ll have to wait until then to know all the details on Victoria’s path toward a “COVID-safe normal”, Mr Andrews has dropped a few hints over the past week.
Regional Victoria, for instance, will likely be allowed to ease some rules faster than metropolitan Melbourne, with Mr Andrews confirming on Tuesday there will be two separate plans.
“It will be a series of rules, a series of phases that will be different because the virus is different in regional Victoria,” he told reporters.
Cafes, restaurants and pubs might be able to restart operations as we move into the warmer months.
On Monday, the Premier said that “the improving weather and the part of the year we are moving into does give us some options we simply didn‘t have last time”.
“More outdoor eating, more outdoor service … We‘re looking at that very closely and we will be having very detailed discussions with that just as one example.”
What‘s known as a ’traffic light system’ will also likely be included, to determine how businesses and industries can operate when restrictions are eased, showing the risk and level of restrictions faced by different sectors.
A red rating would mean businesses must remain closed, orange would allow heavily restricted sectors, yellow would mean fewer restrictions and green would mean operating with a COVID-safe plan.
“Workplace bubbles” could also be created to limit the number of staff who have prolonged and close contact with each other, Mr Andrews said.
The roadmap also won‘t be based on specific dates, with Mr Andrews saying it “won’t contain absolute certain commitments for all of October, November, December”.
“We will have to add to that (roadmap) and fill in some of the detail, not based on what we hope, but based on what the data tells us as we get case numbers each day, each week, right throughout the rest of the year,” he said.
Visits to friends and family will still likely be heavily restricted, with Mr Andrews saying that gatherings at the start of the state‘s second wave were a “massive contributor” to the fast rise in COVID-19 cases.
“As unpleasant as it is to have to forecast, it might be a while before you can have a barbecue with a large number of friends, or even family,” he told reporters.