Some good news for Victorians as the State Government announces the “circuit breaker” lockdown will officially be over from 11:59pm tonight, 17th February 2021.
The 5-day lockdown went into effect quickly on Friday, 12th February, following a breakout of cases at a Melbourne airport hotel serving as a quarantine location. The 19 cases were found to have a “variant of concern” – the UK strain of COVID-19.
With no new cases found on Wednesday, the Victorian Government is sticking with its initial plan to end the lockdown after 5 days.
From 11:59 tonight, restrictions will lift on the 5-kilometre limit for leaving home; up to 5 visitors (from zero) will be allowed in homes; public gatherings will be allowed for up to 20 people; and there will no longer be only 4 reasons you can leave home (shopping for necessities, essential work, exercise, care giving).
Schools are also set to reopen and workplaces will be allowed to resume business at 50 per cent staff capacity. Hospitality venues will be able to return to pre-lockdown limits, with one person per 2 square metres enforced when there are over 25 patrons in a venue.
Mask-use requirements will remain in place, required everywhere indoors except at home, and outside if one is unable to stay physically distant from others.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews thanked Victorians for “the sacrifices and the hard slog” and highlighted the effort that has gone into tackling this new strain.
“It hasn’t been easy or straightforward. In fact, for those Victorians who are part of our health response, it’s been bloody hard work,” Andrew said.
“3,400 close contacts identified and isolated. Thousands of hours of painstaking interviews.
“212,000 tests processed. 850,000 text messages into communities.
“An exacting, intricate and exhausting job against a more wicked enemy than we’ve known before.”
Andrews shared a summary list of what is changing across the state tonight:
Relief for business
This is no doubt good news for the businesses across Victoria that can open doors again – even with limitations – following another lockdown.
“We let out an immense sigh of relief!” said Chrissie Maus, General Manager at Melbourne’s Chapel Street Precinct. “I was holding my breath for our iconic community. Their mental health during lockdown 3.0 has been keeping me awake at night.”
Maus added that it would have also been nice to see the Victorian Government announce further support for businesses that were once again hit by restrictions.
Vince Dianco, owner of the Rebel Blue Greek restaurant in Windsor, pointed out the importance of supporting local businesses during these times.
“People ask me every day how they can help? My answer is simple; help your local small businesses survive by supporting local. This is what makes the world of difference to them and their loyal staff,” Dianco said.
“It’s time to celebrate another milestone of coming out of lockdown tomorrow. Raise your ouzo to another amazing effort Melbourne. We did it again. Yassas!”