IT was an emotional Premier Daniel Andrews who announced at 3.30pm today that the so-called ‘Ring of Steel’ between metro Melbourne and regional Victoria will come down.

It will be removed at 11.59pm on Sunday, November 8.

Operator of the Big 4 Caravan Park at Newhaven, Leonie Green, was delighted to hear the news.

“We’re always ready to welcome guests and bookings look quite good for the Melbourne Cup Weekend but we’re really excited about the news today,” Ms Green said.

The time out earlier had given the popular venue time to make improvements and they are now looking forward to the holiday season ahead.

According to the Premier Sunday, November 8 will be the time at which Victoria becomes one state again, aligned in almost every way as far as the numbers of people are concerned in cafés and pubs, at indoor gyms and for indoor exercise, at church for weddings and funerals.

Other changes will come in almost immediately with all retail in Melbourne reopening from 11.59pm on Tuesday, October 27, with cafes and pubs able to welcome 20 patrons inside and 50 outside.

They’ll be able to have a ‘dark opening’ to get ready immediately.

Initially the 25km limit stays in place but this will also go on November 8 when the regional barrier also comes down.

But Mr Andrews stressed that social precautions still needed to be practiced, especially in the home.

“The most dangerous place where this thing takes off is in the home where people let their guard down with hugs and greeting the people they love. If this thing takes off again that’s where it will take off and we’ve got to get those settings right,” Mr Andrews said.

There will be more details provided today on how the state opens up again in a COVID-safe, COVID-normal way.

On Monday, October 26, Victoria recorded zero new cases and zero additional deaths for the first time since June 9, paving the way to a significant easing of restrictions.

Mr Andrews said 3196 test results from the Northern Suburbs outbreak yesterday all returned negative results.

STATEMENT FROM THE PREMIER

Monday, 26 October 2020

Zero.

The last time Victoria had zero cases was 9 June, 139 days ago.

Even more incredibly, it’s zero cases off the back of a huge testing drive.

Over the course of this weekend, we asked Victorians living in our northern suburbs to get tested. They did just that.

In 24 hours, we have been able to process an additional 14,024 tests – 3196 of them from these communities. This morning we’ve processed an extra 1157.

And not a single new case has been found.

I want to thank everyone who did the right thing by their community and our state in getting tested. I also want to thank the nurses, lab technicians, collectors, couriers – everyone who has been working around the clock to process these tests.

Because of that effort, we’ve been able to get the results faster than we thought. These results give us confidence – confidence that even if we do identify positive cases in any further tests – we are firmly on top of this virus.

It’s why today I can confirm what we’ve long waited for: Melbourne will move out of lockdown and into the Third Step. Before we get to the bit that almost everyone will be waiting for, an ask:

As we take these steady steps towards reopening, the message remains the same: please, stay safe. And if you have symptoms, you must get tested.

Under the Third Step, and from 11:59pm on Tuesday, Melbourne will move from “stay home” to “stay safe”, with no more restrictions on the reasons to leave home.

The 25-kilometre limit though, will remain in place. I know it’s frustrating, but this is about making sure that even as we ease restrictions, we’re limiting the virus’s ability to travel.

It’s why the border between regional Victoria and Melbourne will also remain in place – for just a bit longer.

Under the Third Step, Melbourne’s cafes, restaurants and pubs can reopen. Outdoors with a limit of up to 50, indoors up to 20. Density limits, record keeping and COVIDSafe Plans also apply.

Remaining retail will also open. Beauty and personal care services can resume. And for those businesses who need to get ready for their reopening – staff will be able to attend onsite straight away.

Outdoor contact sport for those aged 18 and under will also begin again – so too can non-contact sport for adults. PT, fitness and dance classes can also be held outdoors with up to ten people, and the number of people at outdoor pools can increase to 50, subject to density limits.

Libraries and community venues will be able to open for outdoor events. Outdoor entertainment venues can also begin hosting visitors.

And faith communities will be able to meet for outdoor religious ceremonies with up to 20 people, in addition to those required for the service. Indoor services can be held with up to 10.

Weddings will increase to ten people, and funerals up to 20.

Workplaces will no longer need to be on the permitted work list to open and the ability to work will change to “if you can work from home you must work from home”.

While the boundary is in place, work permits will still be required for workers from Melbourne travelling into regional Victoria – and vice versa.

I know the thing many people are missing is having people over to visit – but as we’ve seen, this virus is at its most dangerous when we’re indoors and relaxed and comfortable.

It’s why we’re going to take the next 24 hours to understand how we might be able to make this work – safely – and I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.

From 8 November, and if we can continue driving case numbers down, the 25km limit will come off and Melbourne will be able to meet regional Victoria at the same level.

That means the same eased restrictions that apply to regional Victoria will also apply to Melbourne.

The capacity of pubs and restaurants will increase, with up to 40 inside and 70 outside.

Religious gatherings will expand with up 20 people and a faith leader indoors, and 50 outside.

Gyms and indoor fitness will be able to reopen – with some strict safety precautions in place.

And because Melburnians will have well and truly earnt a holiday, accommodation will also reopen.

The border between the city and the rest of our state will also fall away.

I know personally – deeply – just how much this will mean for thousands of Victorians who haven’t been able to see loved ones for far too long.

It will mean families are whole again. Our state is whole again.

I understand there’ll be questions, “what about X?” or “when can I do Y?”. And I promise, we’ll also have an update on 8 November on the timelines and thresholds for taking the Last Step.

We want to reach COVID Normal by Christmas and right now, we’re on track to do that.

It’s why we’ve got to keep going – all of us. Understanding that even though restrictions may ease, our personal responsibility in all this doesn’t.

We have come so far and given so much.

Getting here – and staying here – relies on the efforts of every Victorian.

Keep going.