Victoria has announced a ‘COVIDSafe Summer’. What does that mean?

An aerial view of Melbourne CBD and its surrounding areas. (Image: Flickr)

Melbourne, Victoria:

Victoria, on Sunday, recorded its 37th consecutive day without any new cases of Covid-19, a significant milestone considering new cases were peaking around 700 cases per day in late July, early August.

Following its second wave of infections, the Victorian Government had announed a series of trigger points which they dubbed as “Victoria’s Roadmap for Opening”. While Victoria moved to its Last Step restrictions from 11:59pm 22 November 2020, on Sunday, 6th December, the government announced the state would be moving to COVIDSafe Summer from midnight onward.

According to Premier Daniel Andrews, “Our new “COVIDSafe Summer” will be in place until at least the end of January, giving Victorians a bit more certainty about what the next couple of months will look like.”

What will change?

  • Masks will only be required in a limited number of places: on public transport, in rideshare vehicles and taxis, in some retail settings including indoor shopping centres, supermarkets, department stores and indoor markets. Masks continue to be recommended indoors or outdoors when distancing can’t be maintained.
  • Victorians will be able to host up to 30 people in their home. Outdoor gatherings in public places – the beach, the park – can increase to 100.
  • Density limits in pubs, restaurants and cafes will shift to 1 person per 2sq metres for both indoors and outdoors with no other cap. The use of electronic record keeping – a QR code – will be mandatory. And for small operations, there’ll be no density limits if the patron number is under 25.
  • For beauty services, businesses will be able to move to 1 person per 2sq metres – if they also introduce electronic record keeping. For businesses where that’s just not possible, the existing density limits will continue to apply. Retail businesses will be able to move to 1 person per 2sq metres and electronic record keeping is recommended where practical.
  • The cap for funerals and weddings will also be removed, subject to a new density limit of 1 person per 2sq metres. For those who want to dance on their special day – or maybe even the Nutbush – dancefloors will be able to host up to 50 people, with a density of 1 person per 4sqm.
  • The same rules will apply to nightclubs. But the health advice still stands: no hugs, no handshakes and if you’re feeling sick, you need to get tested and stay home. The same new density limits will apply for community facilities, like libraries, RSLs, and community halls.
  • In gyms, the density limit will move to 1 per 4sq metres – with exercise classes limited to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.
  • More relaxed restrictions for our entertainment venues will see more Victorians enjoying everything that makes us the cultural capital of Australia.

From January 11, private sector companies will be allowed to move up to 50 per cent employees back to their offices.