Restaurant capacities will be doubled, up to 30 visitors allowed in homes and mask rules significantly relaxed under wide-sweeping changes coming to Victoria on Sunday night.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the state will ease further coronavirus restrictions at midnight as the state went 37 days without a fresh infection.
From 11.59pm on Sunday, masks will no longer be required when eating out.
They will only be needed where social distancing cannot be kept – including shopping centres, department stores and rideshare vehicles.
Up to 30 Victorians will be allowed in each others’ homes on any given day from an unlimited number of households – while outdoor gathering limits will rise to 100 people.
Restaurants, weddings, funeral and religious gatherings can also increase their capacity and welcome one person per two square metres.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has significantly relaxed the state’s social distancing restrictions following a 37th straight day without a new coronavirus infection
Although QR codes will be enforced across the state’s hospitality venues, Mr Andrews said bars can offer standing service once again.
Mr Andrews also allowed 50 per cent of private sector workers and 25 per cent in the public sector to go back to the office from January 11.
‘Today marks 37 days without a coronavirus case anywhere in our state. This is a remarkable achievement,’ Mr Andrews said on Sunday morning.
‘It is something that every Victorian owns, it is something every Victorian has built.’
‘While today we can take some big steps, not to normal, but to a COVID-safe summer, we all need to remain vigilant and we all need to play our part.’
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton had earlier told a parliamentary inquiry it is safe for the state to move to a ‘COVID normal’ level of restrictions.
Under the government’s original roadmap out of lockdown, ‘COVID normal’ signifies the end of restrictions on community sport, hospitality venues, gatherings and visitors to the home.
VICTORIA’S ‘COVID-NORMAL’ SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES
Masks only needed where social distancing cannot be kept – like rideshare vehicles, taxis, shopping centres and supermarkets.
Victorians should still keep masks on them so they can use them if they get into a situation where they cannot social distance.
Outdoor gathering limits will rise to 100 people.
Up to 30 Victorians from multiple household will be allowed in each others’ homes on any given day.
Restaurants, weddings, funeral and religious gatherings can host one person per two square metres
Mask rules have been relaxed in Victoria after the state recorded 37 days straight without any new coronavirus infections. Pictured: People walk along Bourke Street Mall on November 27
‘It’s to be determined this weekend, but we will move to a phase where there is an even more limited use of masks in public,’ Professor Sutton told the parliament’s public accounts and estimates committee on Friday.
‘But the recommendation for mask-wearing still exists around Australia, even in places where it hasn’t been mandated at all.
‘It is a kind of insurance for all of us in Australia, we don’t know where another incursion into the country might come from.’
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told a parliamentary inquiry it is safe for the state to move to a ‘COVID normal’ level of restrictions on Sunday
Pictured: A woman wears a face mask at Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall on November 27
The state was expected to unveil new density requirements for pubs, restaurants and cafes come Sunday.
On Monday five international flights from Colombo, Doha, Hong Kong and Singapore will land at Melbourne Airport as the state’s revamped hotel quarantine program restarts.
International flights were diverted from Victoria in June after security guards at two quarantine hotels contracted COVID-19.
The outbreaks sparked the state’s second wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths.
The government announced on Friday it will introduce legislation to charge for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The fees will be set at $3000 per adult, $1000 for each additional adult in a room and $500 for children aged between three and 18 years. There will be no charge for children under three.
Pictured: Shoppers walk along a busy Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne on November 27
Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the legislation will bring Victoria into line with other states and territories.
‘It also ensures that when international flights to Victoria resume, we do not get a disproportionate number of returned travellers seeking to complete their mandatory quarantine period here to avoid the fees in other states,’ she said in a statement.
Ms Neville added there will be hardship considerations, including fee waivers, reductions and payment plan options.
There will be no security guards involved in the new-look program, with all staff employed or directly contracted by the government with the exception of cleaning staff, who are on fixed-term contracts with Alfred Health.
Hundreds of Victoria Police officers will act as security as well as undertake floor monitoring in ‘health hotels’, which will house those travellers who test positive to COVID-19.
Victoria went 36 days without a new Covid-19 case on Saturday, with 7,760 tests conducted over the past 24 hours
More than 150 Australian Defence Force personnel will support Victoria Police by helping guests on entry and exit, as well as registering staff movements and conducting temperature checks.
About 100 ADF members arrived on Friday afternoon and will begin their training on Saturday, with the remainder to arrive on Tuesday, a government spokeswoman confirmed.
Arrivals to Victoria will be initially capped at 160 travellers a day.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating traces of COVID-19 detected in wastewater from the Daylesford, Hepburn and Hepburn Springs area.
Locals and visitors to the region last weekend are urged to get tested.
A testing push is already underway in the town of Colac, southwest of Melbourne, after it also recorded a positive wastewater sample.
Pedestrians are seen walking along the Flinders Street Station underpass in Melbourne