Melbourne restrictions on masks and alcohol clarified after picnic announcement


Melburnians will soon be able to gather in small groups outside – but masks cannot be removed to drink alcohol.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced Thursday that picnics for fully vaccinated people will return from Saturday as part of a “modest” easing of COVID-19 restrictions to mark Victoria meeting her first-dose vaccination target of 70%.

Under the new rules, up to five fully vaccinated adults from two households, plus dependents, will be able to socialize outdoors.

When asked if Andrews’ ban on removing a mask to drink alcoholic beverages in public would be lifted, he told reporters he should seek further advice.

On Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of Health confirmed that the rule will remain.

File image of people gathering in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens in October 2020. Credit: Getty Images

Masks remain mandatory everywhere, and while you cannot remove your mask to drink alcohol outside, it can be removed to eat or drink non-alcoholic beverages.

The prime minister also said police would not go from park to park to check the immunization status of those gathering for picnics, but he hoped the Victorians “would do the right thing”.

“There is a certain degree of good faith in that,” he said.

New freedoms

Other changes that take effect Friday at 11:59 p.m. include doubling the time allowed outdoors to four hours, extending the five-kilometer travel limit to 10, and reopening outdoor gym equipment and skate parks.

Two people will also be allowed to train outdoors with a personal trainer, and property inspections can resume by appointment and for vacant accommodation only.

Recreational sports activities such as golf and tennis are still not permitted under the amendments.

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews addresses the media at a press conference in Melbourne.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews addresses the media at a press conference in Melbourne. Credit: JAMES ROSS/AAPIMAGE

And adults who have not been vaccinated or have only received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to meet another person from a different household for a walk or a picnic.

“We can’t agree on everything. We basically prioritized time with family, so people could connect with another family, another household, outside, ”Andrews said.

Healthcare workers are seen at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site in Melbourne.
Healthcare workers are seen at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site in Melbourne. Credit: DANIEL POCKET/AAPIMAGE

Melbourne’s nighttime curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. will remain in place, with the PM saying he had not received any advice to repeal the controversial measure.

The government’s roadmap out of the lockdown, outlining the restrictions until November, will be released on Sunday.

– with AAP

About Michael Brafford

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