Hard border to remain between Melbourne and regional Victoria
Restrictions in Melbourne and regional Victoria are finally set to ease in the coming weeks, but the hard border will remain between the city and the regions, with permits required for cross-border travel.
In a press conference on Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews outlined the state’s steps out of strict lockdown to the relief of cooped-up Melburnians.
However, he said the border — or ‘ring of steel’ — will be strengthened between Melbourne and the regions, with no date set for its removal.
The move is an attempt to curb Melburnians leaving to virus-safe communities as regional Victoria continues to open up.
“This is not an invitation to go and have a couple of days in regional Victoria and essentially move into regional Victoria without due reason,” Mr Andrews warned.
RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage
Under measures announced Sunday regarding regional Victoria, two adults and their children will be able to visit homes outside of their own once a day.
Hospitality capacity will double to 40 patrons inside and 70 outside, libraries will open and outdoor religious gatherings will increase to 20 people. Further changes including dance classes being allowed from November 1.
However, some changes for regional Victorians will not apply to Greater Shepparton, which experienced a COVID-19 outbreak last week.
RELATED: Daniel Andrews reveals changes to Victoria’s strict lockdown
“While we’ve announced some changes to the roadmap for regional Victorians today, those that relate to indoor restaurants and cafes, will not apply to Greater Shepparton at this stage,” a statement from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said.
It concluded: “This decision, based on the advice of our public health team, is a precautionary measure to keep the Shepparton community safe – and as more people get tested and get their results, we’ll proceed with the changes announced today.”
Over 6,000 tests have been conducted in the area, and no new cases have been found on top of the three cases identified on Tuesday.
More than 400 people, comprising close contacts of those three cases and the close contacts of those contacts, were self-isolating.
RELATED: Andrews reacts to travel bubble bombshell
Mr Andrews said people from metropolitan Melbourne who have a second property in regional Victoria will only be allowed to travel to that property for fire or flood management.
Permits will be required and it will be monitored.
“If you have a property in regional Victoria, and you want to travel to that property and you are in metropolitan Melbourne, to make it ready for either flood or fire, the usual activity that goes on in October/November every year, there will be a process in consultation with your local council from Wednesday next week to go and do those important works,” Mr Andrews said.
“It will be upon the issuance by your council of a fire prevention notice that legally requires you to go and do the work.”
He added: “I will not go to through too much on that, we will put up the information so people have detail well ahead of Wednesday but this has been an issue that has been raised consistently and we have listened and we have a framework around it but I stress again it is not an invitation for people who really do not have fire clean-up to do or flood preparedness to do to use this as an opportunity to travel to regional Victoria.”
Elsewhere in Sunday’s press conference, Mr Andrews said Victoria is well-placed to have not just a COVIDSafe summer, but a COVID normal 2021.
“Not so long ago we had 725 cases and there was simply no way we could have a debate, a perfectly legitimate debate about how to open, went to open, how to do that. It was not an option available to any of us,” he said.
“But Victorians, in every community, from every background, every circumstance, have stayed the course and we just have a little longer to go, just a little longer to go in order to see off the second wave, defeat the second wave, and then to find the normal and to begin the process of rebuilding – not just repairing damage but making sure our state, individuals, families, communities, the economy, is stronger than it has ever been.”
The state recorded two new cases today.