World News

Victoria ends mandatory mask

As Victoria marked its 23rd consecutive day of no new Covid-19 cases and no additional deaths, the state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, announced the end of mandatory mask-wearing outdoors and increased visitor limits in homes, and increased capacity in restaurants, pubs, and gyms.

From Monday, for the first time in more than three months, Victorians will no longer be required to wear masks when outside at all times, under the new rules announced on Sunday. Instead, people will only be required to wear mask when indoors and on public transport, or in places outside where social distancing is not possible.

“If you go to Bunnings and you are inside the store, you are wearing a mask. If you are in the car park, you do not have to wear your mask,” Andrews said. “But if you are queueing up for a sausage, and you are with other people, and you are simply not keeping a distance, you are part of a crowd, you need to put the mask on.”

From Monday, people will be allowed to have up to 15 people in their home each day, and this rule applies to holiday accomodation. Cafes, bars, and restaurants will be able to seat 100 indoors and 200 outdoors, within the density limits.

People dine outdoors in Melbourne on Sunday. From Monday, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to have up to 100 patrons indoors and 200 outdoors. Photograph: Erik Anderson/EPA

Gyms and indoor sporting venues will be able to increase capacity to 150 people, with groups of up to 20 adhering to one person per four square metres. Indoor pools can host 150 people, while outdoor pools can host 300 people.

People will be able to gather in groups of up to 50 people outdoors. Religious ceremonies can have 150 people indoors and 300 outdoors. Weddings and funerals can have 150 people indoors and outdoors.

Cinemas and small galleries can open up to 150 people in each space, with larger facilities able to use 25% of their space. Community venues will be allowed up to 150 people indoors and 300 outdoors, while gaming venues can have up to 150 people, but every second gaming machine will be turned off.

Andrews said that from 30 November, private sector businesses would be allowed to have 25% of their staff return to the office. The public sector would remain working from home for the time being.

He said he would have more to announce on 6 December, but flagged that from 13 December, people would be allowed up to 30 visitors into their home each day.

“The key message is: Victorians have done an amazing job and build something that is so, so precious,” Andrews said. “But it is fragile, and each of us needs to play our part. These rules are a reflection of the best public health advice, listening and being driven by the science, being driven by the data, and we are trying to get people as back to close to normal as possible, but it can only be Covid normal.

“Everything must be Covid safe.”

The one remaining active case in Victoria is an immunocompromised person still receiving care in hospital.

As New South Wales reported another day of zero cases, the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, also confirmed that people travelling to NSW from Victoria would no longer have to quarantine for 14 days from 11.59pm on Sunday.

There were 100,000 police shifts and 40,000 defence shifts at the border in the more than four months the border between NSW and Victoria was closed, and between 650 and 800 police and defence personnel were working there at any time.

Berejiklian said the announcement made NSW the only state in the country without any restrictions on interstate travel. Victoria now requires South Australians to obtain a permit if travelling into Victoria.

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