Melbourne’s Coronavirus Lockdown ExitOctober 31, 2020
After nearly three months in lockdown, Melbourne is finally easing stage four restrictions. On Saturday 10th October, Premier Daniel Andrews attended his 100th consecutive daily press conference. Two weeks later, following a 112-day lockdown, it was announced that Melbourne would be able to exit stage four lockdown as of Wednesday 28th October at 11:59 pm. The lockdown which saw people only allowed to leave their homes for food, exercise, to give or receive care, or to go to essential work will cease to exist. Melbourne citizens will be able to eat out in restaurants and cafes again, get their hair cut and attend pilates reformer classes and strength training sessions once more. This was following a result of no new locally acquired cases of Coronavirus for the first time since June. So, what does this mean for the people of Melbourne?
As of Wednesday 28th October, Melburnians can leave their homes. Retail stores, restaurants, cafes and bars are allowed to open with a maximum of 10 patrons inside at any given time. People will be able to have outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10. Funerals can be attended by up to 20 people and weddings can be attended by a maximum of 10 people. Furthermore, the imposed 5km rule that states that individuals cannot go further than 5km from their homes for any reason, other than essential work, has been increased to 25km.
From 8th November, the 25km travel limit rule will be removed. This means that Victorians will be able to travel freely between regional and metropolitan Victoria, as the ‘ring of steel’ will be removed altogether. Fitness enthusiasts will be able to return to their body flow yoga classes and HIIT training sessions, with gyms and fitness centres allowed to re-open under strict regulations and people limits.
What is Next for Melbourne?
Australia has implemented a suppression strategy when it comes to managing COVID-19. This means managing the virus and the number of infections through widespread testing and contact tracing. This strategy does not incorporate objectives to completely eliminate the virus. The strategy acknowledges the nature of any virus and how it cannot be totally eradicated.
Australia has a population of approximately 25 million people. This year, the nation has recorded roughly 27, 500 cases of Coronavirus. This result is far better than many other nations. In order to keep the number of daily cases under control, restrictions imposed to keep us safe will continue to be a feature in all of our lives for the foreseeable future.
Health professionals will continue to monitor the current situation. Air compressor services will be in high demand as our healthcare system strives to operate in the most effective and advanced ways possible. Contact tracing teams will work on ways to try and improve the speed and accuracy of COVID-19 testing. Furthermore, social distancing will be encouraged. People must stay at least 1.5 metres from each other at all times. There will continue to be a focus on infection control procedures in hospitals across Victoria. In aged care facilities, every precaution will be taken to ensure that there are no future outbreaks in these centres. As the elderly are at a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from the virus, it is important to ensure that any outbreaks are prevented and contained. High touch surfaces such as shower rails and bed rails in aged care will be sanitised regularly in an effort to prevent any spread of disease. Friends and family should continue to contact their loved ones living in aged care facilities through online platforms such as FaceTime and Zoom.
These principles will be mirrored in the hospital systems. Many tools are used for infection control. Air compressors are used in hospital settings to improve air quality. Equipment is continuously sanitised and staff wear personal protective gear including face masks. Face masks will continue to be mandatory across Victoria in the near future.
Has the Lockdown Done More Harm Than Good?
Many people feel that having a lockdown as strict and as long as Melbourne did, ended up doing more harm than good. There are considerable concerns surrounding mental health, domestic violence and business. Over the past year, suicide rates have alarming increased. Domestic violence-related police call-outs have also increased as individuals are unable to leave their homes and escape unsafe family situations.
Businesses, particularly small businesses, have suffered immensely throughout the year. Restaurants, cafes, gyms, beauty salons, hairdressers, the aviation industry and bars have all been unable to operate for long periods of time. Although there has been some level of government support, it has been a challenge for these industries, to say the least. As we re-emerge into the world, supporting these businesses is imperative. By going to your local café or getting your hair cut you will be supporting other Australians through this difficult time. We should aim to purchase Australian made products to support Australian jobs. As we start to be able to travel, taking a holiday somewhere within Australia will help so many businesses.
What is Next for State Borders?
We will all have to wait to find out whether state borders will be open by Christmas. Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has indicated that all states and territories, with the exception of Western Australia, are open to the idea of opening borders before the holidays.
As we move toward a ‘COVID normal’ we must all remember to follow the rules that have been put in place to protect us. We are now able to appreciate the smaller things in life more. In order to make sure that we do not re-enter another lockdown, we must make sure that we do not take for granted the small freedoms we have by breaking the rules. We must continue to take care of ourselves and each other. Always make sure to check in on your friends, family and neighbours. This year has been difficult for everyone, but together we will come out on the other side.