Regional Victoria has consistently outperformed its metropolitan counterpart in suppressing the Covid-19 virus and as such is subject to significantly fewer restrictions.
Currently, it is in the third step of the state’s roadmap out of lockdown allowing for a significant reopening of the retail and hospitality industries.
On 19 October, premier Daniel Andrews announced some easing of restrictions, increasing capacity in restaurants and cafes as well as allowing more guests to enter private homes. Further changes were announced on 25 October.
Here are the main things you need to know about the step three restrictions in regional Victoria:
When can I leave my house?
The only restriction on leaving home is that you cannot travel into areas with higher restrictions, which includes metropolitan Melbourne.
Otherwise, there are no restrictions on reasons for leaving your house or on where you go within the state.
People can gather in groups of up to 10 people outdoors.
What are the rules for wearing masks?
People must still 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 “or if it’s just not practical, like when running” are also exempt, 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.
Andrews said “common sense” would guide how the new rules are enforced. People would not be required to wear one when it was impractical, such as when exercising or visiting a bank.
Breaking the rules is punishable with a $200 fine.
Can I have visitors to my house? Can I see my partner?
Whereas previously regional Victoria operated under the “household bubble”system, this was replaced from 19 October.
You can now have up to two people visit you at home once a day. These do not have to be the same people each time and the two people can come from separate households.
Infants under 12 months are not included, and other children or dependents can come if they cannot be left unattended or cared for by another.
There is no time limit on how long they can visit but you can only have a single visitation each day.
Can I now dine-in at a restaurant or cafe?
Hospitality businesses are now able to serve up to 70 people outdoors with a minimum of one person per two square meters.
From 19 October, indoor spaces are allowed to operate with up to 10 people per distinct space, with a minimum of four square meters per person and no more than 40 indoor customers total.
Tables must be spaced at least 1.5m apart, cleaned after every customer and the details of all patrons must be kept.
Businesses must continue to ensure people from metropolitan Melbourne do not eat-in.
Will the shops be open?
Yes, all shops can open.
Hairdressers, tattoo parlours and beauty servers are also open, but only where a mask can be worn for the duration of the service.
What about other businesses and services?
Similar to dining out, entertainment venues and events that are predominantly outdoors are now open.
Real estate inspections are still by appointment only, but outdoor auctions can return, subject to gathering limits.
Libraries and toy libraries can open for up to 20 people indoors, but no more than 10 people can gather in a single space, and there must be at least four square meters per person.
Licensed tourism services that use open-air vehicles only are also now allowed to operate. A vehicle is considered an open-air if at least two sides are open to airflow at all times.
What are the rules for exercise?
All community sports have resumed for children in regional Victoria, but only non-contact sports are allowed for adults outdoors, within gather and density limits.
Outdoor exercise is also now allowed for groups of up to 10 people. Outdoor skateparks have also opened. From 11.59pm on 27 October, indoor gyms will be open to a maximum of 20 people, with minimum space requirements in place. Children’s indoor non-contact community sports will also be allowed to resume, provided participants can remain 1.5m apart.
Outdoor pools are open and from 19 October indoor swimming pools can open exclusively for those aged 18 and under. One parent or guardian is allowed per child to supervise, and swimming classes can resume. Indoor pools can also open for one-on-one hydrotherapy sessions with a limit of 10 people in the pool at one time. From midnight on 27 October, indoor pools will be open to up to 20 people.
What is happening with schools?
All students in regional Victoria will now be expected to return to onsite learning.
The return will be staggered and will apply when term four begins during the week of 12 October.
Childcare centres remain open while adult education remains restricted, with students encouraged to learn from home if they can.
What happens to weddings, funerals or religious services?
Weddings can now have up to 10 people, including the couple, two witnesses and a celebrant.
Funerals are now allowed to have up to 20 people, not including children under 12 months and people required to conduct the funeral. From 28 October, up to 50 people will be allowed to attend an outdoor funerals.
Outdoor religious gatherings are allowed for up to 20 people plus one faith leader. This includes ceremonies, but no sharing of food, drink or utensils is allowed. From Wednesday up to 20 people plus one faith leader will be allowed to attend a religious gathering indoors, and up to 50 will be allowed to attend outdoor religious gatherings.
Where can I travel?
Restrictions on travel within regional Victoria have been eased, with people now allowed to travel within the state, with the exception of areas with higher restrictions.
In this case, that means everywhere except metropolitan Melbourne.
Tourist accommodation is open, but exclusively for regional Victorians travelling and holidaying within regional Victoria. Caps and density limits still apply, however.
Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that 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.