Regional Victoria switched into ‘step 3’ overnight. Here’s what’s now allowed


Regional Victoria is now in step three of its coronavirus roadmap to recovery. The changes came into effect at 11:59pm last night.It means the gap between what is allowed in Melbourne and regional Victoria is widening, and police are being asked to strengthen the border between the two zones with additional vehicle checkpoints and a tough new $4,957 fine to stop people from Melbourne seeking additional freedoms in the country. Police and defence force personnel will aim to question every driver at checkpoints between Melbourne and regional Victoria.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)So what actually changes today?We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of what’s allowed in regional Victoria under step 3, but here’s what people are most looking forward to:Travel is back on the agenda, just in time for school holidaysWhile there might not be any trips to Bali to celebrate the end of term 3 — or even Byron Bay for that matter, as interstate borders remain shut to most Victorians — those in regional Victoria can now have a getaway.Travel within regional Victoria is allowed and Victoria Police has confirmed you can pass through Melbourne to get where you need to go.”The restrictions do permit that,” Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations Rick Nugent said.”You might have someone, for example, going from Bairnsdale to Geelong, then they’re permitted to do that.” A day at the beach is now possible for regional Victorians.(ABC News: Nicole Mills)But the health department says while you can travel through Melbourne on your way to visiting friends or holidaying in regional Victoria, “you should not stop in Melbourne except to buy necessary goods and services, for care and compassionate reasons or permitted work”. And while you’re driving through Melbourne you’re under Melbourne’s rules, so plan your trip so that you’re not travelling during curfew.With no more stay-at-home requirements, that also means day trips to the beach or a long hike are permitted.Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from September 16 with our coronavirus blog.Hotels, caravan parks and campgrounds will reopenAll accommodation, including caravan parks and campgrounds with shared facilities, can reopen in regional Victoria.But you can only go away with:Members of your householdAn intimate partnerMembers of your household and a maximum of five members of the household you’ve picked to be in your household bubbleSeparate groups cannot share bedrooms, meaning you can’t book a bed in a large dorm room if it means sharing with strangers. But there are no restrictions on sharing kitchens, toilets and shower facilities, as long as they’re being cleaned regularly and COVID-safe plans are in place. Caravan parks can reopen, including those with shared bathrooms and kitchens.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)You can go round to Mum’s for dinner, IF she’s in your household bubbleThere may well be some awkward conversations going on across regional Victoria as the battle for who gets the first slice of Mum’s home-cooked lasagne heats up.The only way you can visit someone inside their home (unless you are intimate partners) is if you’ve nominated each other to be in your “household bubble”.How do household bubbles work?Household bubbles are allowed in regional Victoria from 11:59pm on September 16. In metropolitan Melbourne only those who live alone and single parents get a bubble for nowYou can only nominate one other household to be in your bubble, and they must choose you in returnIt’s one bubble per household, each member of the household can’t have their own bubbleA household in regional Victoria cannot choose a household in Melbourne to be in their bubbleYou do not need to wear masks when visiting your bubble inside one of your homes. (This is different to Melbourne’s single bubble, where masks must be worn, even indoors.)This bureaucratic intervention could prove to be the ultimate decider in many long-running Favourite Sibling Wars.But there are ways around it if your family chooses a more diplomatic route.Groups of up to 10 people are allowed to meet outdoors (lasagne picnic anyone?) or you can book a table in a restaurant.That’s right, cafes and restaurants are reopeningNo more takeaway-only for regional Victoria. Cafes and restaurants can offer table service again.But you’ll want to book ahead because seating is limited and some businesses may decide it’s not worth their while reopening.Up to 10 patrons can be seated indoors and up to 50 people can be seated outdoors, as long as the spaces are large enough to comply with density rules and tables can be 1.5 metres apart.There will also be a two-hour time limit on all bookings, so no relaxing long lunches or drinking late into the night. You can now sit down to have a beer and a meal in a pub.(ABC News: Emilia Terzon)Outdoor junior (and some adult) sport is backKids and teenagers under 18 will be allowed to participate in outdoor sports, both contact and non-contact varieties.Victoria’s road to recoveryFor adults the rules are a bit stricter: only non-contact outdoor sport where you can maintain a distance of 1.5 metres is allowed.But the 10-person limit on outdoor gatherings will not apply to participants, as both junior and senior sport is capped at the minimum number of people required to play a match.For example, a cricket match can involve two teams of 11 players plus coaches and umpires.Bootcamps will be allowed with up to 10 people and skateparks and trampolining centres can reopen — provided they’re outdoors.More people can attend weddings and funeralsWeddings in regional Victoria can now have up to 10 people (including the couple and witnesses) plus a celebrant.Funerals are capped at 20 mourners plus those required to conduct the funeral.More businesses can reopenBeauty services and tattoo parlours will be allowed to reopen for all services where a face mask can be worn.What isn’t changing?Masks remain mandatory.What next for regional Victoria?There are only two more steps in the roadmap for regional Victoria.But they both rely on Victoria hitting statewide targets, which means regional areas will likely sit on this third step for at least two months.The “last step” may come into effect on November 23, if there have been no new cases statewide in the two weeks prior.That will allow for increased numbers at gatherings and hospitality venues.After that, subject to health advice, it’s time for “COVID-normal”, with no restrictions on gatherings or visitors to the home. But some safety requirements, such as venues taking contact details, will remain in place.What you need to know about coronavirus:

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