Victoria’s road back from restrictions: Your questions answered

Victorian residents have taken a few more small steps on their path out of lockdown this week after the state government updated its plan for transitioning out out of lockdown on Sunday.

Melburnians have been exploring their new 15 kilometre travel limits and city golfers have been hitting the greens for the first time since early August.

Premier Daniel Andrews and COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar prepare to update the media on Monday.

Premier Daniel Andrews and COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar prepare to update the media on Monday.Credit:Scott McNaughton

Victorians in regional areas that aren’t in lockdown have also been permitted to gather in greater numbers at outdoor cafes as mask restrictions were eased at hairdressers.

However, as Victorians look forward to reaching the next double-dose vaccine targets and additional freedom of movement, many questions remain about what exactly vaccinated and unvaccinated Victorians will be allowed to do in coming months.

October 26 and November 5 look set to become dates when more rules might fade into history, and vaccines, not lockdown, are counted on to protect people from the coronavirus.

We’ve attempted to answer a few of the questions readers asked us to look into. This article will be updated as new information becomes available, so please check back for fresh updates.

Do I need to wear a face mask when bushwalking with no one around me?

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Face masks remain mandatory for outdoor activities in most circumstances, unless you are exerting yourself, for instance running or cycling.

My husband lives in regional Victoria and I live in Melbourne and we’re both fully vaccinated. Are we able see one another? – Seng

Yes. The government restrictions allow for intimate partners to visit each other even if they live more than 15 kilometres apart provided they do not exceed the five-person-per-household limit.

I am a member of a golf club but live just outside the 15km area can l still travel there to play – David

No. As of September 29 Melbourne residents can once again play golf. Accessing the facility must be contactless and patrons must wear a mask at all times. However, you can’t travel outside your 15-kilometre zone for a round.

When will I be able to go to the hairdresser and can a hairdresser cut my hair in park?

Under current restrictions, hairdressers in regional Victoria are open with a density limit of one person per four square metres and a patron cap of 10 (excluding staff). Face masks can also be removed for a short time if the service requires it.

However, hairdressing and other personal beauty services are not currently permitted in Melbourne and that includes at the park.

Once 70 per cent of Victorians are fully vaccinated, hair salons can reopen with up to five fully vaccinated patrons allowed in the store at once. This will increase to a cap of 150 vaccinated patrons (in line with density requirements) from about October 26.

When will indoor gyms reopen?

Physical recreation will resume indoors in Melbourne once 80 per cent double-vaccination rates are reached (expected around November 5). This will be subject to a density limit of one person per four square metres, with an indoor cap of 150 people.

Indoor gyms – along with play centres, indoor skateparks – are already open with a 10-person limit in those areas of regional Victoria that aren’t in lockdown.

When can people from Metropolitan Melbourne visit their regional/rural bush properties for maintenance and bushfire preparations?

There are currently only limited reasons for a resident of metropolitan Melbourne to travel to regional Victoria.

A resident of metropolitan Melbourne can only travel to regional Victoria to tend to another property for emergency maintenance. This does not include preparation activities unless such work is urgent or essential. Health authorities said they would provide updates about bushfire preparedness in the near future.

Travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will happen when 80 per cent of Victorians are double dose vaccinated.

Once Victoria hits that vaccination target, there will be no restrictions on reasons to leave home and people will be able to travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria for any reason.

Living in regional Victoria, are we able to meet our adult children in an outdoor space in Melbourne any time soon or do we have to wait until 80 per cent full vaccination?

Unfortunately, you may have to wait until around November 5, when the state is projected to hit that 80 per cent full-vaccination mark. Once the state hits 70 per cent, those from Melbourne will be able to travel 25 kilometres from their homes.

For those with family members interstate, the Victorian government has flagged that fully vaccinated residents might be exempt from any domestic travel restrictions once that 80 per cent target is reached, in line with the national plan.

When can we try on clothes in real-life shops?

Retail will reopen for in-store service in Melbourne once 80 per cent of the eligible population is double-vaxxed. Each shop will have to follow density guidelines of one person per four square metres.

Retail outlets in regional Victoria have already reopened, but density limits apply. Masks remain mandatory at all times.

When can we travel internationally?

According to Australia’s national plan, once the country reaches its 80 per cent two-dose target, all restrictions on outbound travel will be lifted for vaccinated Australians, while travel bubbles (like the one currently on pause with New Zealand) will potentially be extended to countries such as Singapore.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said he expected broader international travel would resume before the end of the year.

When will we be able to leave Victoria and be confident we can return when we want to?

Fully vaccinated residents should be exempt from all domestic restrictions once the 80 per cent two-dose vaccine target is reached, according to the national COVID plan.

Further to that, Mr Andrews said he was “going to do everything” he could to avoid lockdowns – and therefore avoid interrupting travel – once the state hits its full vaccination targets.

But Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce noted that “in the Doherty (Institute) plan, there is still the capacity … that there will be targeted initiatives for explicit areas, if and when required”.

When will dog grooming be open?

In Melbourne, veterinary clinics, pet stores and mobile pet grooming services are considered authorised workplaces, meaning they can open under current COVID-19 restrictions.

This means that if your regular groomer is offering contactless drop-off and pick-up of your pet, and the service takes place outside, Fido might be able to get his fur in order right now.

Health Department deputy secretary Kate Matson announced the change in early September

“Grooming will be permitted for non-urgent and regular grooming needs, as long as it’s conducted outdoors and is contactless, and conducted solo,” she said.

We’re buying a vehicle chosen online from a dealer 34 kilometres from our Melbourne home, subject to a road test. Will we be able to do this before November 5?

If the rollout of Victoria’s road map continues as expected, a travel limit of 25 kilometres for those in metro areas will apply from when 70 per cent of the state’s population is double-dosed to when 80 per cent have had both jabs.

Only when 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated will limits on intrastate travel be removed. So, unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until about November 5 to pick up your new set of wheels.

When can I resume playing golf?

Golf is already permitted in regional Victoria, although the number of people in each group cannot be more than 10 and face masks are required.

Golf clubs in Melbourne reopened on Wednesday, September 29 as part of the easing related to Victoria reaching its 80 per cent first-dose vaccine target.

However, play must be in groups of two (for players who aren’t fully vaccinated) or up to four for those who are fully vaccinated (from a maximum of two households).

The Northcote Golf Course was opened up as a recreational space during last year’s Melbourne lockdown.

The Northcote Golf Course was opened up as a recreational space during last year’s Melbourne lockdown. Credit:Wayne Taylor

Players must also wear masks and live within 15 kilometres of the club that they are playing at.

What does DQ2 and DQ4 mean in the road map?

These abbreviations initially had me scratching my head too – they relate to the density quotient for certain shops and facilities. ‘DQ4’ means that there can only be a maximum of one person per four square metres, while ‘DQ2’ means a maximum of one person for every two square metres.

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Erin Pearson covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.Connect via Twitter or email.

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