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State of Emergency extended into June

THE State of Emergency in Victoria will be extended for another three weeks to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The extension was announced on Sunday, to keep people safe as restrictions were cautiously eased across the state starting Monday.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said the State of Emergency will be extended until 11.59pm on June 21.

This extension will allow the Victorian Government to continue to enforce strict physical distancing and isolation requirements, as well as other directions from the Chief Health Officer relating to businesses, working from home, mass gatherings and recreational activities.

The continued high testing rate in Victoria coupled with the current low rate of community transmission, means restrictions will be further relaxed from tomorrow – but the battle against coronavirus is far from over.

As of Monday morning, there were no active cases of coronavirus in the Yarriambiack.

Reason

Victorians are now also allowed to leave the house for any reason after the State Government lifted their five-reasons rule.

Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement released on Sunday that Victoria had achieved something remarkable.

“We’ve made sacrifices. We’ve missed loved ones. We’ve given up getting on the beers. And in doing so, we’ve helped keep one another safe.

“Because of those efforts, we’ve been able to gradually ease restrictions. And from Monday, we’ll no longer be giving Victorians a definitive list of reasons to leave home.

“Instead, we’ll be asking people to use that same common sense – and that same sense of community – in the weeks and months to come.

“Some measures, though, must stay the same. One of the key things that won’t change is working from home. If you’re currently working from home – you must keep working from home.

“By working from home, we limit the number of people moving around – and we limit the spread of this virus.

“To date, we’ve left the ins and the outs of how this will work to Victorians and their employers.

“But going forward – and in light of new evidence indicating increased activity – the obligation for employers to keep their staff working from home will now be included in the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

“That means there will now be a clear and shared responsibility between workers and their bosses.

“For employees, that means an obligation to keep working from home. And for employers, an obligation to support them in doing so.

“As we’ve said from the start, our actions will always be guided by evidence,” Mr Andrews said.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said the coronavirus battle is far from over.

“Victorians will no doubt welcome the further easing of restrictions from tomorrow (yesterday), but our coronavirus fight is far from over. Keeping the State of Emergency in place will ensure we have the tools we need to keep Victorians safe,” Ms Mikakos said.

Precautions

The State Government is still encouraging residents to continue to maintain physical distance from others, take appropriate hygiene precautions, avoid crowds, stay home and get tested if unwell.

Under a State of Emergency, officers authorised by the Chief Health Officer can act to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health by detaining people, restricting movement, preventing entry to premises, or providing any other direction an officer considers reasonable to protect public health.

Police have strong powers to enforce directions and can issue on the spot fines, including up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses.

Space

Restaurants and cafes are now allowed up to 20 seated patrons per enclosed space.

Limits will be placed on entry to comply with the density requirements allowed within a single space – one customer per four square metres.

Venues are required to request contact details, first name and phone number, of every customer to assist in rapid contact tracing.

From 11.59pm on June 21, this will increase to 50 patrons per enclosed space.

A further increase of up to 100 patrons per enclosed space is planned for the second half of July.

Changes to these dates will be subject to the advice of the Chief Health Officer.

Libraries and community facilities, including playgrounds and skate parks are allowed to open under the same 20 person and distancing rules.

Parks Victoria managed parks and assets, barbecues, drinking fountains, showers and communal kitchens are not available for public use.

Tourist accommodation including caravan parks and camp grounds are allowed to reopen for visitors provided kitchen, toilet and shower facilities are not shared.

Travellers

Yarriambiack Shire Mayor Graeme Massey said he believes caravan parks across the shire will be reopened but travellers will need to be able to utilise their own facilities as toilet blocks and showers will remain locked.

“A self-contained van will still be able to stay at (caravan parks) but the kitchen, laundry, and showers can’t be used,” Mayor Massey said.

“Anyone travelling through the area will need to be aware ahead of time of what is or isn’t open,”

Mayor Massey said although the restrictions have been lifted, it is still up to individual groups to reopen their facilities when they decide to.

“We are very keen to see everyone coming back to the area and I think it won’t be until after June 22, restrictions are lifted that I would expect to see more people coming to the area.”