Melbourne stage 4 restrictions and Covid lockdown rules explained

Stage four restrictions have been in effect across metropolitan Melbourne since Sunday 2 August.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, announced his government’s roadmap for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Sunday 6 September. Some small changes came into effect on midnight 13 September, and further changes were announced on 27 September, to come into effect by the next day.

Here’s what you need to know about the restrictions in Melbourne.

When can I leave my house?

You are only allowed to leave your house for four main reasons: shopping for food and essential items; care and caregiving; daily exercise or recreation; and work. Employers must support you to work from home if you can work from home.

Caregiving 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. Specific directions apply.

You can leave your house if you are at risk of family violence or to apply for an intervention order, and to attend court or a police station.

You can also leave your house to access medical services. That explicitly includes leaving your house to give blood. Access to medical services is unrestricted: you can access them anywhere in Victoria.

From 5am on Monday 28 September there is no longer a night-time curfew.

How far can I travel from home?

Shopping for food and necessary supplies must be done within 5km of your home, except if the nearest supermarket is further than 5km.

Exercise must take place within 5km of home, and must be in metropolitan Melbourne.

What are the rules for exercise?

From midnight on 27 September, you may exercise up to two hours a day in total, split into a maximum of two sessions.

Outdoor recreation must be within 5km of home or permitted work, up to two hours a day total, split into a maximum of two sessions.

Outdoor personal training is allowed, with up to two people per trainer.

Outdoor pools are open from 28 September, but skate parks and gyms remain closed.

Up to five people from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors for social interaction, exercise or recreation (infants under 12 months of age are not included in the cap) for a maximum of two hours and within 5km of their home.

You are not be allowed to leave metropolitan Melbourne to exercise, meaning long bushwalks or leaving Melbourne to go fishing or golfing are not permitted.

You are allowed to drive to a location in order to exercise, but your destination must be within 5km of your home and must be the closest practicable location.

Time spent in the car driving to and from your location is included in the one-hour time limit.

What are the rules for wearing face masks?

People must wear a mask or covering whenever leaving the house. There are a few exceptions. People with a medical reason are exempt, as are children younger than 12. Those who have a professional reason are also exempt and “if it’s just not practical, like when running”, but those people will still be expected to carry a face covering at all times “to wear when you can”.

In schools, teachers will not need to wear a face covering while teaching, but students attending classes will. Both teachers and students will need to wear a mask on the way to and from school.

Breaking the rules is punishable with a $200 fine.

Is my municipality or suburb included?

All local government areas within metropolitan Melbourne are affected. That includes:

Banyule, Hume, Moreland, Bayside, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Boroondara, Knox, Nillumbik, Brimbank, Manningham, Port Phillip, Cardinia, Maribyrnong, Stonnington, Casey, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Darebin, Melbourne, Whittlesea, Frankston, Melton, Wyndham, Glen Eira, Monash, Yarra, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Yarra Ranges, Hobsons Bay.

Regional Victoria is now at step three of the state’s roadmap out of lockdown. You can find out more about restrictions outside of metropolitan Melbourne here.

Can I have visitors to my house? Can I see my partner?

You cannot have visitors or go to another person’s house unless it is for the purpose of giving or receiving care. You can leave your house to visit a person if you are in an “intimate personal relationship” with them.

If your partner lives outside Melbourne and/or 5km away from your home you can still visit them.

People living alone are allowed to have one person visit in a “social bubble”. You can only have one nominated person, but you can travel more than 5km to visit their house, and that can include a house where they live with others. You and your nominated person are allowed to visit either person’s house. However if the nominated person lives with other people, they cannot be home when the single person visits.

Cleaners, tradespeople, gardeners, painters and renovators are not allowed to visit your house for work. Exceptions exist for emergency issues such as a burst pipe, and for providing care for welfare and wellbeing such as Meals on Wheels. But “it’s not the time to be painting your house or having unnecessary, non-urgent work happen,” Andrews said.

Do I have to stay in Melbourne?

The stay-at-home rules apply to your main place of residence so you will not be able to get out of Melbourne and stay in your holiday house. The government says this is to stop the virus being spread to other parts of the state.

Can I still dine in at a restaurant or cafe?

No. Restaurants and cafes will only be able to trade as takeaway and delivery businesses.

Are the shops open?

Supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, and local bakers and butchers are allowed to trade but subject to density rules limited by people per square metre.

General retail is closed. Stores are allowed to operate contactless pick-up, delivery and “click and collect”. Hardware stores are open to tradespeople only.

Strictly speaking, you are only 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. Families and households are able to shop together, but only once a day.

What about other businesses and services?

Pubs, bars and nightclubs are closed and bottle shops are takeaway only. Beauty services and hairdressers are closed.

Entertainment and cultural venues such as music venues, museums, indoor and outdoor cinemas, and the casino are shut. Brothels and strip clubs are also shut. Libraries and community venues can only stay open for essential services, or to host funerals.

Real estate inspections are by appointment only and auctions will be conducted remotely.

What are the changes to warehouses and abattoirs?

Warehouses in Melbourne have been limited to two-thirds of their normal workforce onsite at any time from since Thursday 6 August.

From 28 September abattoirs can increase staff numbers to 80% of their normal workforce.

What is happening to construction?

Major private construction projects have been limited to only 25% of their normal workforce onsite since Thursday 6 August.

Small construction, such as home renovations or new homes, are limited to only five people onsite. Government construction projects have already halved the number of people onsite, and the government is looking to reduce them on a project-by-project basis.

How do I get a permitted worker permit?

If your organisation is on the list of industries allowed to remain open in any form, you are able to fill out a form with your employer that you can present if asked by police if stopped travelling while working.

You can present the document, or a photo of the document on your phone if needed.

Can I still move house?

Yes. The government advises people to take extra precautions, including wearing a mask.

What is happening with schools?

Primary school students begin a staged return to onsite learning in term four, with all schools due to return to face-to-face learning by 12 October.

Year 11 and 12 students will return for assessments from 3 October, and for onsite learning from 12 October. Other years remain on remote learning.

Childcare is open to all children from 28 September.

What happens to weddings, funerals or religious services?

From 28 September, weddings are allowed with up to five people (including the couple and two witnesses) plus the celebrant.

Funerals may have up to 10 people (not including infants under 12 months or people required to conduct the funeral).

Outdoor gatherings and religious ceremonies of up to five people, plus one faith leader, are allowed near a place of worship. Places of worship themselves remain closed.

What if I break the rules?

Victoria police are monitoring traffic seeking to leave metropolitan Melbourne and residents face $5,000 fines if they leave the city without a valid reason (providing or receiving care, medical needs, visiting an intimate partner or for work with a valid work permit).

Police can issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 to businesses, for general breaches of the stay-at-home orders.

The on-the-spot fine for not wearing a face covering is $200 and the fine for breaching isolation orders multiple times after testing positive for coronavirus is $4,957. This can be increased through the courts to a maximum of $20,000.

On 27 September Andrews announced a new fine of “almost $5,000” for unlawful outdoor or indoor gatherings.

  • Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is regularly updated to ensure it reflects the current situation at the date of publication. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will continue to be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.