The record high of 723 coronavirus cases in Victoria on 30 July prompted the premier, Daniel Andrews, to announce a statewide mandatory mask policy from midnight Sunday 2 August, and new restrictions in some regional areas from 30 July.
From midnight on Thursday 30 July, in the council areas of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Colac and Queenscliff, there is a restriction banning visitors to people’s homes akin to the rules in Melbourne.
It follows the reintroduction of stage three restrictions across all of metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire for six weeks from 8 July.
“I think a sense of complacency has crept into us as we let our frustrations get the better of us,” Andrews said at the time. “I think that each of us know someone who has not been following the rules as well as they should have.
“I think each of us know that we’ve got no choice but to take these very, very difficult steps.”
While many of the rules are the same as the stage three lockdown that was imposed in March, there are some differences too. The full list of rules is on the Victoria Health site here.
Here are some the main things you need to know about the stage 3 restrictions in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire:
When does the lockdown start?
The stage 3 restrictions covering metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire were introduced from 11.59pm on Wednesday, 8 July 2020 and will last for six weeks.
When can I leave my house?
As during the previous stage three lockdown, the four reasons to leave the house are: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise, work and study. But if you can work or study from home, you must. Employers must support you to work from home.
Caregiving includes managing shared custody arrangements, using a babysitter, leaving home to care for animals housed elsewhere, visiting someone in an aged care home, and visiting someone in hospital. Specific directions apply.
You can leave your house if you are at risk of family violence or to apply for an intervention order, and to attend court or a police station.
You can also leave your house to access medical services. This time around, that explicitly includes leaving your house to give blood. Access to medical services is unrestricted: you can access them anywhere in Victoria.
What are the rules for wearing masks?
It has been mandatory for people in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell shire to wear face coverings in public since midnight on Wednesday 22 July. That rule will be extended to the entire state from midnight Sunday 2 August.
People must wear a mask or covering whenever leaving the house during the state’s second lockdown. 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.
Is my municipality included?
The full list of municipalities is at the bottom of this story. But the main point is that all local government areas within metropolitan Melbourne will be affected, as well as Mitchell Shire, which is north of the city. Rules will stay the same in regional areas.
Can I have visitors to my house? Can I see my partner?
You cannot have visitors or go to another person’s house unless it is for the purpose of giving or receiving care. You can leave your house to visit a person if you are in an “intimate personal relationship” with them. That is, there is no “bonk ban”.
Do I have to stay in Melbourne?
The stay-at-home rules apply to your main place of residence so you will not be able to get out of Melbourne and stay in your holiday house. The government says this is to stop the virus being spread to other parts of the state.
Can I still dine in at a restaurant or cafe?
No. Restaurants and cafes will only be able to trade as takeaway and delivery businesses.
Will the shops be open?
Shopping centres, markets and other retailers will be allowed to trade but subject to density rules limited by people per square metre. Strictly speaking, you will only be allowed to go to the shops to buy food and essential items. If you need help with shopping, or need to help a friend or family member, you can go shopping together but remain 1.5m apart.
What about other businesses and services?
Pubs, bars and nightclubs will be closed and bottle shops will be takeaway only. Beauty services will be closed, but hairdressers can stay open.
Entertainment and cultural venues such as music venues, museums, indoor and outdoor cinemas, and the casino will be shut. Brothels and strip clubs will also shut. Libraries and community venues can only stay open for essential services, or to host weddings and funerals.
Real estate inspections will be by appointment only and auctions will be conducted remotely.
What are the rules for exercise?
Exercise is still a permitted reason to leave your house. But you will not be allowed to leave metropolitan Melbourne to exercise, meaning long bush walks or leaving Melbourne to go fishing or surfing are no longer permitted.
Swimming pools, playgrounds and gyms will be shut, and community sport will also stop. Sports like golf, tennis and boating can continue, but again, you cannot leave Melbourne to do them.
You can exercise with members of your household or one other person. You can also hire a personal trainer.
What is happening with schools?
Year 11 and 12 students returned to school as planned on 13 July, as did students in special schools. All other students in lockdown areas had an extra week of school holidays, then returned to remote learning from 20 July. Students outside lockdown areas returned to face-to-face learning on 13 July.
What happens to weddings, funerals or religious services?
Religious services will need to be broadcast online. Weddings will be able to include five people (couple, two witnesses and the celebrant) while the limit will be for 10 people at funerals (not including those conducting the service).
Holiday accomodation and camping venues must close. Travel within Victoria is allowed only for work and education, and only if necessary.
Can I travel to Melbourne?
You cannot travel to Melbourne or the Mitchell Shire unless it’s for work or study, medical care and caregiving, shopping for food or supplies. Exercise is not a valid reason to travel.
You can travel through Melbourne or the Mitchell Shire on your way to somewhere else, but it’s recommended you don’t stop unless it’s for one of those three reasons.
What if I break the rules?
Andrews has said police will monitor traffic seeking to leave metropolitan Melbourne and officers would also enforce the restrictions within the city. Victoria police can issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 to businesses.
Full list of municipalities: Banyule, Hume, Moreland, Bayside, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Boroondara, Knox, Nillumbik, Brimbank, Manningham, Port Phillip, Cardinia, Maribyrnong, Stonnington, Casey, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Darebin, Melbourne, Whittlesea, Frankston, Melton, Wyndham, Glen Eira, Monash, Yarra, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Yarra Ranges, Hobsons Bay, Mitchell Shire.
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.