The whole way through this pandemic, our advice to Victorians has remained the same: “stay home”.
Now, as we begin to settle into a new normal, our message is “stay safe”.
That means maintaining your physical distance. Using common sense.
And as we ease restrictions, each of us playing our part to keep one another safe.
With the rate of community transmission remaining low, and the rate of testing remaining high, we’re in a position to make a number of additional changes.
As always with these things, there’ll be questions about why we can do this, but not that. Why one activity is okay, but another might not be.
And the truth is, we’ve had to make some tough decisions. Just as we can ease some restrictions, some of our other measures must remain in place.
One of our most important messages to Victorians is this: if you are working from home, you must keep working from home – at least until the end of June.
I understand there’ll be questions about why you can go to the pub or the park – but not the office.
But the health advice on this is very clear.
We just can’t afford to have millions of people moving around our state – taking public transport or using the communal kitchen. Let alone when you think about the logistical challenges of getting people in and out of lifts or lobbies.
Now I understand this won’t reflect everyone’s working conditions. And there are plenty of workers for whom this just won’t apply.
But for those bosses who have employees who can work from home – we’re asking that they keep working from home.
It’s making a very real contribution to the safety of our state.
Because of that contribution – and the contributions of every Victorian – today we can announce our next steps.
Each of these changes are cautious and considered.
And each of them is underpinned by one key principle: by limiting the number of people moving around our state – we can limit the spread of this virus.
That means from Tuesday – and in line with the return to face-to-face learning in school – outdoor playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor communal gym equipment will reopen.
Then, from 11:59pm on 31 May, you’ll be able to have a total of 20 people in your home. For a family of five, that means 15 visitors. Outdoor gatherings can also increase to 20.
Overnight stays can resume at private residences. And importantly, for our tourism industry, so can overnight stays in accommodation.
In good news for those itching to pitch their tent, this will also apply to campgrounds and caravan parks – but not with communal facilities like kitchens or bathrooms so we can stay safe.
Limits on our most significant ceremonies will be lifted, with up to 20 people allowed at weddings – plus the celebrant and couple – and up to 50 people allowed at a funeral, in addition to those required to conduct the ceremony. Up to 20 will be allowed at other religious ceremonies, in addition to those required to perform the service.
Libraries, youth centres and other community facilities will be able to open with no more than 20 people in a single area, plus those needed to operate the space. That means men’s sheds and arts and crafts classes can resume.
From 11:59pm on 31 May, entertainment and cultural venues like galleries, museums, drive-in cinemas and historic sites will be able to open their doors, alongside zoos and outdoor amusement parks. Physical distancing and a limit of up to 20 patrons per space will apply, and indoor venues will be required to keep customer contact details.
Swimming pools will also open with limits of 20 people and additional safety requirements in place. Community sporting activities will also be permitted with up to 20 people in undivided spaces, provided the sport is outdoors, non-competition, non-contact, and people are able to play 1.5 metres apart. Restrictions on professional sport will remain unchanged.
Beauty and personal care services like nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours will be able to open with up to 20 customers per space – with customer contact details required to be kept.
Auctions and open for inspections will also be subject to the 20-person limit – plus those required to conduct the activity – with agents also required to keep the contact details of everyone who attends.
Non-food and drink market stalls will also be able to open from 11:59pm on 31 May.
If community transmission rates continue to remain low and testing rates continue to remain high, we will look to further relax restrictions from 22 June.
From that date, indoor fitness and recreation facilities will open with up to 20 people per space and up to 10 people per group or activity at any one time.
Up to 50 people will be permitted in restaurants, cafes, galleries, museums and for the first time, cinemas and theatres. And for those eager to hit the slopes, the ski season will open slightly later this year on 22 June.
At the same time, we’re urging Victorians:
In all your activities, be considered. Be cautious. Use your common sense.
And if you don’t have to do it – don’t.
By making these small sacrifices, we’re each contributing to something much greater than ourselves.
Working from home means we can go away for the weekend.
Staggering start times means our kids can start learning face-to-face.
Keeping our distance means we can open cafes and restaurants.
And by only seeing those you need to, if you need to, we can help keep our friends and families safe.
Because we all have a part to play.
And it’s up to all of us to make this work.