The Victorian government has announced that face masks will be mandatory indoors for every person over 12, private gatherings at home of no more than five people and new public gathering limits of 30 people.
The new ‘COVIDSafe measures’ come into effect from 6pm on Tuesday, and include extra state-wide restrictions for visiting hospitals and aged care facilities.
In a statement, the government said that Melbourne residents who choose to visit regional Victoria will also be required to wear a facemask indoors unless an exemption applies.
“Victorians who live in Greater Melbourne and need to travel to regional Victoria can still do so; however, the restrictions travel with them.
“For example, if you visit someone outside of metropolitan Melbourne, they must not have more than five visitors to their home on that day. If you attend a public gathering outside of Greater Melbourne, it must not be bigger than 30 people,” the statement said.
Schools and workplaces will remain open with the current restrictions in place and all venues are still required to keep an electronic record of visitors using the Service Victoria QR code.
The beefed-up measures will also mean the Victorian government will delay its plans to ease density quotients for outdoors spaces. The government said that the timeline for returning to a maximum of 200 people allowed in spaces smaller than 400 square meters would be revised when the health advice gives the green light.
Merlino urged all Victorians to get tested and isolated if they had any symptoms. He also used the opportunity to ask that eligible members of the public get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“If you’re eligible to get vaccinated, don’t wait. Make an appointment or walk up to a vaccination site today. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your family,” Merlino said.
Victorians can make an appointment to be vaccinated at sites across the state and with participating GP clinics. The government noted that walk ins were also being accepted at many vaccine hub sites.
Health minister Martin Foley added that the recent spike in positive cases, which identified 10 new potential exposure locations in Melbourne that included a swimming pool, shopping centre and fast food restaurant, was a warning for Victorians not to be complacent about the risk of the virus.
On Monday Victoria recorded four new local cases of COVID-19 after two positive cases in Melbourne’s northern suburbs prompted an investigation by the Department of Health. By Tuesday afternoon the positive COVID count had reached nine in Victoria (with additional family members of one of the original five testing positive). As of Wednesday morning there are 15 active cases in the state.
“These cases are an important reminder that until the majority of Australians have been vaccinated, and as we move into winter, we cannot let any complacency creep in, and we need to keep up our COVIDSafe behaviours,” Foley added.