Steps towards freedom


Esther Lauaki

Long-awaited trips to the hairdresser, golf sessions and reuniting with friends and family are among the freedoms that Brimbank residents can enjoy again as Melbourne’s restrictions ease this week.

Metropolitan Melbourne takes its second step towards COVID normal after Victoria recorded two new cases of coronavirus and no additional deaths on Sunday – its fifth day of less than 10 new cases.

Melbourne’s rolling 14-day average of cases dropped to 7.5 at the end of last week, just shy of the five case target needed to comfortably reopen retail according to the state’s roadmap out of the pandemic.

Brimbank has just nine active cases and three of those are at the Estia Aged Care facility in Keilor.

In significant changes to social restrictions, Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced the five-kilometre travel radius would be increased to 25 kilometres; widening of the travel bubble means that residents in the heart of Brimbank can now travel as far north as Craigieburn, west to Eyenesbury and to Malvern in the south-east.

“We think that people will be able to avail themselves of the things that matter most to them and the things that they should safely be able to access within 25 kilometres,” Mr Andrews said.

Other changes to rules include no time limit on leaving home, but the four reasons for leaving home remain in place, and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households (children under 12 months of age not included).

Hairdressers can reopen with strict rules on operation and all allied health professionals already operating can resume face-to-face care.

Sports and recreational activities can resume, with indoor pools allowed for one-on-one hydrotherapy with a health professional and outdoor pools limits increased to 30 swimmers

Outdoor sport settings can also reopen provided they do not require facilities to be entered, staffed, or the use of communal facilities, and skate parks, golf courses and tennis courts can open too.

But retail and hospitality businesses will be forced to wait until November 1 before they can reopen.

“I’m not doing what’s popular, I’m doing what’s safe,” Mr Andrews said on Sunday.

“We don’t want to be back here again.”

The Premier said that the reopening of retail and hospitality could be brought forward if case numbers stay low.

Mr Andrews said more announcements could be made this weekend depending on the figures.