Regional Victoria has progressed to step three today, what does that mean?

The Great Ocean Road. Picture: Morgan Hancock
The Great Ocean Road. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Overnight regional Victoria progressed to step three of Victoria's roadmap to a new COVID Normal.

From today under these new rules, regional communities will be able to enjoy more social interactions and businesses will be able to open more freely.

There's no restriction on reasons to leave home, you can catch up with friends over a cup of coffee, and have people from your chosen household bubble over for dinner.

The Standard has compiled a list of all the changes for anyone wondering what exactly step three means for them:

No restrictions on leaving home

This is also one of the key rule changes that will be a breath of fresh air for people desperate for a change of scenery.

While people can still only travel with their social bubbles, meaning their nominated household bubble, the freedom of being able to hit the road cannot be underestimated.

Obviously Melbourne is still off limits, but it's a big state!

For the accommodation and tourist industry this will just be the start of the re-emergence from hibernation.

You can catch up with groups of friends outdoors

Lake Pertobe and Warrnambool coastline. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Lake Pertobe and Warrnambool coastline. Picture: Morgan Hancock

You're now allowed to catch up with groups of friends all at once, and they can be from different households.

With some gorgeous spring weather on the horizon, now is the perfect time to catch up with people in the safety of the great outdoors.

It was a long winter (seemingly far longer than others) and we are all in need of Vitamin D.

Why not dust off the picnic rug and head to Lake Pertobe, or the beach, for a well-needed catch up?

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends spending time with others outside where possible.

You can also take the kids to the playground and let them burn some energy.

You can have visitors to your home

You can now show off your iso cooking skills and host a dinner party!

Unfortunately, this will still be quite a bit stricter than the last time this rule was re-introduced.

On the surface it appears a major step but in reality it is still rather restrictive.

You are only allowed five visitors to your home and that five visitors must all be from the same household.

The key here is: that household cannot change.

So once you've selected the Smiths (for example) to be your household bubble, you can't then have the Jones' around the week after. And likewise, the Smiths can't head elsewhere.

Or maybe you're younger and you're thinking of visiting your parents? You better make sure you're the favourite child because once you've visited your parents, they become your household bubble and they can't have other people over!

Sport and school returns

Grassmere Primary School students. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Grassmere Primary School students. Picture: Morgan Hancock

There will be a chorus of rejoice from many corners at this announcement, no doubt.

Students will return to the classrooms from the start of term four.

Primary schools will start on the first week of term four.

Education Minister James Merlino said on Thursday secondary schools will be kept free for assessments on the Wednesday of the first week of school, and for P-12 schools the primary school kids will start on the Thursday of the first week of term.

Regional and metropolitan VCE and VCAL students will go back at the same time, meaning from October 5 senior secondary schools will be doing the same thing - only going in to school for assessments and then will return to on-site learning on October 12.

And on the sporting field, get ready to burn some energy!

Outdoor contact and non-contact sport for under-18 is allowed, as outdoor non-contact sport for adults, with gathering and density limits.

Outdoor skateparks open, outdoor fitness for 10 people is also allowed.

However, gyms will remain closed at this time.

Hospitality venues to re-open

Brightbird Espresso owner Anton Habel and sister Rebekah Mahmoud. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Brightbird Espresso owner Anton Habel and sister Rebekah Mahmoud. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Hospitality venues are set to become major meeting points for people desperate to re-engage with one another.

Given home visitation is still rather limited (as per social bubbles), pubs and restaurants are set to become social hubs with people looking to catch-up.

Given strict social distancing laws apply, hospitality venues are thought to be much safer than people socialising casually in their own homes.

The government allowing small numbers of indoor customers came as quite a shock, making venues the big winners from the announcement.

There will be a maximum of 20 people inside and 50 people outside, depending on the size of the venue.

Retail, beauty and hairdressers open 

Warrnambool's Anushka Brows and Beauty's Rhiarna Sharma. Picture: Mark Witte

Warrnambool's Anushka Brows and Beauty's Rhiarna Sharma. Picture: Mark Witte

Ladies, good news for those winter brows - beauty salons have reopened, along with retail and hairdressers.

The key point here for beauty and personal care is services can only be carried out where face coverings can be worn.

There are no person limits when it comes to shopping.

Intrastate travel:

The Great Ocean Road. Picture: Morgan Hancock

The Great Ocean Road. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Not to be confused with interstate travel, intrastate travel means regional Victorians are allowed to travel anywhere in the state that is also under step three restrictions.

Travel through metropolitan Melbourne to get to other regional areas, such as from Warrnambool to Bairnsdale, is allowed, but travel to Melbourne is not.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents however, must stay within five kilometres of their homes unless for the permitted reasons.

Any metropolitan Melbourne residents caught trying to travel into regional Victoria unlawfully will be issued a $4567 fine under tough new state laws.

Accommodation, camping and caravanning

You can hit the road and go camping, stay in a hotel, or caravan park, anywhere in regional Victoria.

The catch here is you can only go with your social/household bubble, not with multiple households.

Entertainment:

Outdoor venues and events can go ahead, subject to pre-approved plans.

Elective surgery:

Elective surgery will be scaled up across the state.

Category two and three surgeries will increase to 75 per cent in regional Victoria from today, then 85 per cent on September 28.

Elective surgeries in metropolitan Melbourne will increase to 75 per cent on September 28.

All Victorian hospitals will move to 100 per cent of usual activity when the state moves to the last step to COVID Normal, planned for 23 November.

It will mean around 18,750 additional elective surgeries across private and public hospitals in October, and another 10,000 in November.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said hospitals would continue asymptomatic testing of healthcare staff and pre-operative COVID-19 tests.

Dental and allied health services will also be resuming.

During the third step, most dental and allied health services will be able to recommence with a COVIDSafe plan, with some limitations still in place on group therapy for allied health.

Real estate:

Real estate will continue to operate with private inspections only and auctions can take place in outdoor areas with gathering limits in place.

Weddings:

Weddings limits have increased with up to 10 people including the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant allowed.

Funerals:

Meanwhile funeral services can have up to 20 people with infants under 12 months and people conducting the service excluded from this number.

Religion:

Outdoor religious gatherings can have up to 10 people as well as the faith leader in attendance. Places of worship are only open for private worships.

The DHHS COVIDSafe principles still apply; wear a mask or face covering when outside your house, do not go to work if you are sick or unwell and keep a physical distance of 1.5 metres.

Other principles include coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow, having good hand hygiene and remaining to outdoor activities.

Subject to public health advice, if there are zero new cases statewide for 14 days, Victoria can move to the final step on November 23.

This story What does Victoria's step three mean for me? first appeared on The Standard.