Melbourne Covid lockdown rules and coronavirus restrictions explained

By Guardian staff

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, announced his government’s roadmap for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Sunday 6 September, and while the main themes of this roadmap are still being followed, the timing of restrictions being eased have been adapted and tweaked as the weeks have gone on.

More rule relaxations were announced on 8 November, when Andrews announced the scrapping of the metropolitan-regional border and Melbourne’s 25km movement limit.

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

When can I leave my house?

From Wednesday 28 October, Melbourne entered step three moving from a “stay home” order to “stay safe”, with no more restrictions on the reasons for which you can leave your home.

Previously you were 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.

Melburnians are currently allowed to leave the home for any period of time for exercises or socialising with friend and family outdoors.

How far can I travel from home?

Restrictions on Melbourne residents travelling more than 25 kilometres from their home were to be lifted from 9 November. The premier said with the so-called ring of steel coming down people from Melbourne could again travel to regional Victoria without restriction.

What are the rules for exercise?

From midnight on 19 October, there are no limits on how long you can spend exercising each day or the number of times you are allowed to leave you home for exercise.

Outdoor personal training is allowed, with up to two people per trainer, and exercise in a group of up to 10 people from a maximum of two households in a public place is also permitted. From 28 October, gatherings are no longer limited to just two households but are still capped at 10 people.

Outdoor sport’s recreational facilities, such as tennis courts, golf courses or bowling greens, are allowed to reopen with a number of restrictions.

No equipment for hire or sharing is allowed and indoor facilities such as change rooms must be closed. Groups must be limited to 10 people from two households or up to 10 from the same household, and groups must have at least 100m of space between them. From 28 October, gatherings are no longer limited to just two households but are still capped at 10 people.

Outdoor pools are open from 28 September, but from 19 October capacity has been increased to 30 swimmers per pool. From 9 November, indoor pools can also open subject to a maximum of 20 people or less depending on the size of the venue.

Indoor gyms are able to open from 9 November with a patron cap of 10 people per space and 20 people per venue. A number of rules including a strict density gap and staggered class times must be in place.

Up to 10 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). From 28 October, the gatherings are no longer limited to just two households but are still capped at 10 people.

Outdoor community sport for under 18s and outdoor non-contact sport for adults will be allowed from 28 October.

From 9 November skateparks, play centres, trampolining centres and libraries may all re-open subject to restrictions on density.

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 were initially subject to tighter restrictions than regional Victoria. But from 9 November, the same rules will apply to the whole state.

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

From 9 November, each day a household can receive up to two different adult visitors, either together or separately. Dependents of the visitors are excluded from caps if they cannot be left unattended or cared for in another setting.

Any intimate partners of those who ordinarily reside at the household being visited are excluded from daily visitor caps.

From 19 October, a number of outdoor industries are allowed to restart. This includes those providing non-essential home maintenance and repairs such as painting outdoors, pool cleaning, installing solar panels, as well as external car washing, mobile pet grooming, outdoor professional photography and letterboxing. These outdoor businesses are limited to five workers at each location.

Other trade work at private residences are still banned, but 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?

You are not currently allowed 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.

But from 9 November, the restriction on leaving metropolitan Melbourne is set to be lifted.

Can I still dine in at a restaurant or cafe?

From 28 October, restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars reopened, with a maximum indoor capacity of 20 people, seated, with 10 people per space. Outdoor, there will be a maximum of 50 people with one person per two square metres.

From 9 November, these limits are set to increase to 40 people inside, and 70 at outdoor venues.

Are the shops open?

From 28 October, all retail stores reopened.

What about other businesses and services?

Hairdressers are now open.

Beauty, personal services and tattooing also reopened from 28 October, provided you can wear a mask.

Entertainment and cultural venues such as music venues, museums, indoor and outdoor cinemas, and the casino are all able to re-open from 9 November subject to capacity restrictions. Brothels and strip clubs are also shut. Libraries and community venues are also able to hold up to 20 people per venue.

Real estate inspections are by appointment only and auctions must be outdoors with a maximum of 10 people, plus the minimum number of people required to conduct the auction.

What are the changes to warehouses and abattoirs?

Since 6 August, warehouses in Melbourne have been limited to two-thirds of their normal workforce onsite at any time.

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

From 9 November, workforce caps for abattoirs, seafood and poultry processing venues have been lifted.

What is happening to construction?

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

Can I still move house?

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

What is happening with schools?

All primary schools returned to face-to-face learning on 12 October.

Year 11 and 12 students returned for assessments from 3 October and for onsite learning from 12 October.

Year 7 students returned to face-to-face learning on 12 October and years 8-10 will follow on 26 October.

Childcare was open to all children from 28 September.

What happens to weddings, funerals or religious services?

From 28 October, weddings were able to include 10 people and funerals increased to 20 mourners.

From 28 October, indoor faith gatherings were allowed 10 worshippers and a leader, while outdoor services were allowed 20 people plus a faith leader.

Limits on religious gatherings increase from 9 November to 20 worshippers indoors and 50 for outdoor services, in addition to a faith leader.

What if I break the rules?

Victoria police were monitoring traffic seeking to leave metropolitan Melbourne and residents faced $5,000 fines if they left 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.