We asked for your questions about Victoria's new coronavirus restrictions. Here's what you wanted to know

BY MAANI TRUU

Announcing the introduction of Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne, and Stage 3 for the rest of the state, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was desperate to drive home a key principle.

"Stay at home means stay at home," he stressed. 

The new restrictions in Melbourne include a curfew between 8pm and 5am every night and a ban on travelling beyond a five-kilometre radius of your home, even to purchase essential supplies or exercise. Non-compliance could see you slapped with a $1,652 fine. 

But even under the strict orders, the toughest seen in Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, there are some common-sense exceptions. 

We asked our readers what questions they had about the new lockdown measures. Here is what they said. 

How will these restrictions impact people at the end of their lease who have to find a new rental property?

According to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines, Melbourne residents are only permitted to leave their home for the following reasons: to shop for essential items or services, exercise, to care for someone or for medical reasons, or to work if unable to do so remotely.

Moving house however is an exception to this, and private inspections by appointment for prospective rental houses are permitted.

Can you move house or help others move house even if it means travelling outside the five-kilometre radius? 

Yes, you are able to go beyond the five-kilometre radius of your residence for the purpose of moving house as long as it is within the permitted curfew hours (not after 8pm or before 5am).

For anyone hoping to help you move under Stage 4 restrictions, however, it’s less clear. Under Stage 3 restrictions, members of your household and one other friend or family member are permitted to help you move. 

My partner and I just bought a house in another suburb and we need to renovate it so we can move in. Are we allowed to continue visiting the house?

According to DHHS, travel to a second-place of residence is generally not permitted, but some exceptions - including in an emergency or for maintenance - exist.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Andrews said it was likely there would be allowances for “transactions that are already in train”.

“I don't want to see people not able to settle on their home. I don't want to see people who are supposed to move from one place to another because the lease has run out unable to do so,” he said.

In regards to tradespeople, only five people will be allowed on a private building site at any one time from Wednesday. But, Mr Andrews added: “it’s not the time to be painting your house or having unnecessary, non-urgent work happen”.

Can you travel outside of the five-kilometre radius to comply with shared custody arrangements? 

Yes, according to the DHHS, parenting arrangements, both court-ordered and informal, can continue as usual.

This means you can travel from your home to drop off or pick up children from the other parent.

Can grandparents travel from their home for the purpose of babysitting children?

According to Chief Medical Health Officer Brett Sutton, for essential workers that are unable to use formal childcare options, the answer is yes. 

In response to this question on Monday, however, Mr Andrews said: “You need to have the minimum number of people coming to your house under any circumstances.”

My wife and I have three kids. Are we still able to take them out for their exercise together or do we have to split them up and one misses out?

If you are caring for children or other people who cannot be left unattended, they are allowed to accompany you during your daily exercise.

“If you’re a parent with little ones, you can still take them with you when you go for a walk,” Mr Andrews said on Sunday. 

Can someone give you a lift to the supermarket or medical appointment if you don’t drive?

Generally speaking, you are not allowed to travel in a vehicle with people from outside your household.

In regards to medical appointments, DHHS restrictions say “you can leave home to accompany someone for essential medical treatment if you are a parent, guardian, or necessary support person”. 

Are you allowed to visit your partner who lives in a different house? Can you stay overnight?

If you and your partner live in different homes you can still visit them.

In a statement on Sunday, Mr Andrews said “where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks”, but noted that this would not apply to partners who live apart. 

I’m due to give birth in four weeks. Will I be able to have my partner there? 

A “necessary support person” is permitted to leave their house to accompany someone for essential medical treatment.

In earlier statements, health authorities said a single “partner or support person” is allowed to be present for labour and can stay for as long as required after the birth.

Following that, they can visit once per day for a maximum of two hours. 

If we can only leave the house for four reasons, but some shops that sell non-essential items are still open, is it legal to go in?

Most retail businesses will be forced to close from Wednesday as part of the Stage 4 restrictions. Exceptions to this include supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, banks, newsagents and post offices.

Other retail businesses, such as Bunnings Warehouse, will be allowed to operate contactless "click and collect" and delivery services, Mr Andrews said on Monday. 

Can you travel beyond your closest supermarket to go to a halal butcher? 

Under Stage 4 restrictions, purchasing essential goods, such as groceries, are one of the few reasons you are able to leave your home - but, there are some caveats. 

Only one member of the household can leave home to purchase goods and services once a day, and they must not go beyond a five-kilometre radius of their home. It is also expected that people will stay as close to home as possible, and only visit the nearest supermarket.

But announcing the measures on Sunday, Mr Andrews said there would be some “common-sense exceptions” to this rule. The following day he said butchers would be permitted to remain open.

My closest supermarket is 13 kilometres away, but am I allowed to go to a cheaper supermarket that is further up the road?

You are permitted to travel beyond the five-kilometre radius to buy essential supplies if there is not a closer supermarket, however, it appears there is so far no exception for cheaper supermarkets if there is a closer option. 

Am I allowed to take my pet to the vet or a dog groomer?

You can take your pet to the vet. On the question of dog groomers, it is unclear; however, beauty and personal care services for humans, including hairdressers, will be closed - so this would likely extend to pet grooming. 

Does doing gardening on your own nature strip out the front of your house count as being at home? 

We couldn’t get an answer to this before deadline. We will update this article as more information becomes available. 

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.

Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The post about “We asked for your questions about Victoria's new coronavirus restrictions. Here's what you wanted to know" first appeared on the SBS Australia website.

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