COVID-19: Victoria’s new coronavirus rules, explained

Living Well | RACV | Posted on 25 June 2020

What you need to know about the latest COVID-19 rules and how to keep you and your loved ones safe.

After a gradual easing of restrictions from strict lockdown rules imposed in March, the Victorian government has backtracked to counter a surge in infections.

All of us have a part to play in helping to stem the spread of the virus and save lives. Here’s how you can help keep yourself, your loved ones and the community safe.

This page will be updated as new announcements are made. 

Playground closed


COVID-19 Update: 4 July


Two postcodes added to ‘hot zone’ lockdown, nine towers in hard lockdown

Two new postcodes have been added to the 10 postcodes locked down until 29 July, and nine public-housing towers face a ‘hard lockdown’ as the Victorian government struggles to contain a recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

The Flemington and North Melbourne postcodes have joined those that returned to stage-three restrictions on 2 July, allowing residents to leave their homes only to go to work or school, to buy groceries and other essentials, or for exercise or caregiving.

Residents of the nine public-housing towers in hard lockdown will be confined to their units for at least five days and will be tested for the virus. The towers, all in Flemington and North Melbourne, collectively house 3000 people.

The stage-three restrictions apply to the following postcodes until 29 July (read below for more details of the restrictions):

3012: Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray

3021: Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans

3031: Flemington 

3032: Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore

3038: Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens

3042: Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie

3046: Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park

3047: Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana

3051: North Melbourne 

3055: Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West

3060: Fawkner

3064: Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickleham, Roxburgh Park, Calcallow 

Hygiene and social distancing measures vital

Adhering to the 1.5-metre social-distancing rule and thorough hand washing and hygiene are more important than ever. Read our guide below to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Australians asked to download COVIDSafe app

The federal government is urging Australians to download the COVIDSafe app, to help authorities speed up contacting people who may have been exposed to the virus. Find out more about the app from this health department explainer

Hand sanitisation station outside restaurant
Person wiping down laptop with alcohol wipe


New lockdown rules for the 12 COVID-19 ‘hot zone’ postcodes 

The following stage-three stay-at-home restrictions apply to the hotspot postcodes of 3012, 3021, 3031, 3032, 3038, 3042, 3046, 3047, 3051, 3055, 3060 and 3064 until 29 July (see Update box above for affected suburbs):

  • Residents can leave their homes only to go to work or school, to buy groceries and other essentials, or for exercise or caregiving.
  • Victorians who live outside the hot zones cannot visit unless for one of the four reasons above.
  • Businesses and facilities that reopened must close again. These include entertainment venues, places of worship, community facilities and beauty salons (hairdressers may remain open). Restaurants and cafes will return to takeaway and delivery only.
  • Shopping centres and outdoor markets must apply the four-square-metre rule to limit the number of shoppers.  
  • You cannot visit or host family or friends, unless providing care or for compassionate reasons, providing a service or for work.
  • Partners living separately are allowed to visit each other at home.
  • If you were on holiday when the restrictions began you may continue as planned, but restrictions will apply on your return.
  • Schools are expected to reopen to students from 13 July.

For more detailed information about the new hot-zone restrictions go to the state government’s information page

 

The following rules apply to all Victorians outside the COVID-19 hot zones

How many people can gather at a time in Victoria?

Private households can host up to five guests. Public gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, can host 10 people, but attendees must keep at least 1.5 metres between themselves and anyone from outside their household.

What businesses and facilities have reopened?

The following businesses and facilities have been allowed to reopen, for up to 20 customers or patrons at a time. Social distancing of 1.5 metres is required, and the venue must ensure density of no more than one person per four square metres.

  • Cafes, restaurants and pubs can serve meals to up to 20 people, with tables spaced 1.5 metres apart. Alcohol can be served without a meal, but patrons must be seated and served at their table.
  • Galleries, museums, zoos, historic sites, arcades, drive-in and indoor cinemas and amusement parks can operate with 20 patrons per space.
  • Libraries, youth centres and other community facilities can operate with 20 people in a space.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gyms and indoor sports centres can operate with up to 20 patrons.
  • Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing and nail salons, spas, tattoo and masssage parlours can open with up to 20 customers.

What other activities are permitted, and how many can take part?

Victorians can meet up with family and friends outdoors in groups of up to 10 people. They can relax at the park, have a picnic or play non-contact sports. They can use playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms in groups of up to 10. Social distancing of 1.5 metres is required for people outside your household.

Sports training is permitted outdoors but must be non-contact, with no more than 20 people taking part, plus the coach or manager. 

Fishing, boating, diving, playing golf and bootcamps are permitted in groups of up to 20. You can take a tai chi or yoga class outside in groups of 20 or fewer.

Victorians are allowed to go for a drive and can take a learner driver out to practise and attend driving lessons. Auctions and home inspections are permitted for up to 20 people.

Weddings are now allowed 20 guests and 50 mourners can attend a funeral. All places of worship can open for small religious ceremonies for up to 20 people, plus those required to conduct the service. Counselling and community services are allowed for no more than 20 people.

Where am I allowed to travel and for how long? 

Victorians can stay overnight (or multiple nights) in a private home or paid accommodation including hotels, motels, private holiday rentals, caravan parks and camping grounds. Back-country camping is also permitted. There is no limit on how far you can travel, and no time limit on how long you stay away. 

What are the rules on social distancing?

To reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection, you must maintain at least 1.5 metres between you and other people when out and about or with anyone from outside your household. Do not hug or shake hands with anyone outside your household. If in an enclosed space, such as an office, ensure you have a four-square-metre perimeter around you. Do not shake hands, hug or touch other people beyond your immediate household. Practise good hand hygiene and ensure you cough or sneeze into your elbow.

What are the rules for families and households?

Social distancing rules do not apply in the home with the people you live with. People who do live together can go out as a group and stay together as long as the social distance of 1.5 metres is maintained with others. 

Can I catch up with family or friends in a private home? 

Victorians may visit family and friends but households can host only five guests.

What about older people and those with health conditions?  

There is strong advice for self-isolation as far as practical for those over 70 years of age, for those over 60 who have health conditions, and for Indigenous Australians over the age of 50. These groups should limit contact with others as much as possible if outside their homes. Here's how to care for older relatives during the COVID-19 crisis.  

Can I still visit my GP?

Victorians are allowed to leave their home to seek medical care. The federal government has expanded Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians and provided extra incentives to GPs and other health practitioners. Many medical appointments and other specialist consultations, such as physiotherapy, psychology and paediatrics, are being delivered over the phone. In some cases face-to-face consultations will be necessary. Patients should talk to their doctor or health practitioner about the most appropriate course of care. 

Can a babysitter look after my children?

Parents can drop off their children at a babysitter’s house, including the home of friends and family. They can also have another person come to their house to look after their children. Premier Daniel Andrews has said grandparents should not babysit their grandchildren, in order to minimise risk to older age groups.

Can I catch public transport?

Public transport is still operating but where possible, try to travel at off-peak periods to minimise the number of people travelling at any one time. Make sure you practise excellent hygiene by washing hands or using a hand sanitiser before and after travel, avoiding touching surfaces where possible, using a tissue to sneeze and cough and disposing of it immediately after alighting, and washing hands or sanitising immediately afterwards. Try to maximise distance between you and other passengers.  More: How COVID-19 will change your commute.

What happens if I don’t abide by the shutdown rules?

Victorians who flout closure and social-distancing rules face on-the-spot fines of $1652 and $9913 for businesses.

Can I travel within Australia?

Border restrictions on non-essential travellers apply in South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. New South Wales has restricted travel to and from Melbourne’s 12 hot-zone postcodes.  

Can I travel internationally?

Overseas travel is banned, with few exceptions. Government agency Smartraveller advises that If you have future travel planned or are considering going overseas, cancel or postpone these plans as a ban is in place. Australians arriving in Melbourne from overseas will be quarantined for two weeks in hotel rooms and other accommodation. Interstate travellers can return to their home states after quarantine.

Your questions answered

Unsure about what you can and can’t do? The Department of Health and Human Services has released a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about ‘stay at home’ and ‘restricted activities’ directions. 

Plus don't believe everything you read. These are the biggest coronavirus myths, busted.

Close up of thermometer
Close up of thermometer at 37 degrees

If you have any symptoms, including a runny nose, slight fever, sore throat or cough, get tested for coronavirus.



COVID-19: What you need to know



How can I play a part in helping slow the spread of coronavirus? 

Everyone in our community has a role to play in helping to save lives by slowing the spread of the disease. As well as practising excellent hygiene through diligent hand-washing and using a tissue to sneeze or cough, people should avoid unnecessary outings and socialising. This means working from home where possible, catching up with friends and relatives over the phone or Skype rather than in person and, when you do need to be out and about, ensuring you keep a safe 1.5 metres away from other people. 

How can I minimise my chances of infection?

Minimising your chances of contracting coronavirus is fairly straightforward: 

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water and dry well. 
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue and dispose of the tissue immediately afterwards, then wash and dry your hands. 
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow (not into your hands). 
  • Avoid unnecessary travel, visits and errands. 
  • Avoid socialising with people beyond your immediate household. 
  • When you are around other people, be it at work, at the supermarket or on public transport, ensure you allow at least 1.5 metres between you and the next person.  

What’s the best way to wash my hands? 

Washing your hands is key to reducing the spread of coronavirus. The proper method is as follows:  

  • Wet hands and apply enough soap to cover all surfaces.   
  • Rub hands palm to palm, the right palm over top of left hand and vice-versa. Focus also on the fingers and fingernails by washing palm to palm with interlacing fingers and then scrubbing fingers and thumbs in the opposing palm and repeat. Be sure to apply soap and clean underneath rings or other jewellery. This should take about 20 to 30 seconds. Try singing Happy Birthday to yourself twice – or reciting the alphabet. 
  • Rinse thoroughly under warm water.  
  • Dry hands with disposable paper towel where available, or alternatively under an air dryer. Avoid cloth towels which could harbour coronavirus microbes.   

Is hand sanitiser as effective as soap and water?  

Washing hands with soap and water is more effective than hand sanitiser; however, if handwashing facilities are not available, hand sanitisers are a great alternative for visibly non-soiled hands. Hand sanitisers should contain at least 60 per cent alcohol to be effective in disabling the pathogen. Authorities strongly recommend against making your own sanitiser. Don’t waste your time using alcoholic drinks, like 40 per cent proof vodka, because it contains too little alcohol to be effective. 

What do I do if I run out of soap?

The NSW health department says if you’ve run out of soap, shampoo and dishwashing detergent are effective substitutes. 

What about cleaning my house?

New research by the University of California suggests the virus can live on metal and plastic surfaces for up to three days, on cardboard for 24 hours and up to three hours in the air. You can help prevent the spread of infection by cleaning frequently used surfaces such as doorknobs, taps, fridge doors and light switches. 

Are household disinfectants effective in killing the virus?

It is believed that common household disinfectants are effective in killing the virus. But it is important to avoid recontaminating surfaces as you clean by ensuring you use a clean cloth or disposable towel, and clean bigger areas in an S motion so you’re not going over the same area. 

Wash your hands immediately after cleaning and if using a non-disposable cloth, make sure you wash and dry it thoroughly after each use. Washing the cloth on the warmest possible setting of your washing machine, with regular detergent, should kill the virus.

What should I do if I feel unwell? 

You should stay home and avoid contact with anyone. If you think you may have COVID-19, call your doctor – don’t just turn up to the surgery. Your doctor will be able to advise on the best course of action, whether it be presenting to a specialised clinic for testing or remaining home in self-isolation. 

Should I wear a face mask?  

Face masks are not recommended for the general population. WHO advises that if you are healthy you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected coronavirus infection or are coughing or sneezing. It says masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. 

Those with symptoms who might be infected with COVID-19 are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person or when seeking medical advice, to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection. 

How to dispose of a mask properly

If you wear a mask, use and dispose of it properly. 

  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. 
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask. 
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. 
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks. 

Where can I keep up to date on the latest coronavirus information?

For more advice and details on the coronavirus hotline, go to the Department of Health and Human Services’ coronavirus information page, or visit the World Health Organisation and sign up for their daily WhatsApp updates. The messaging service will provide the latest news and information on coronavirus, including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others.  

The WHO Health Alert can be accessed on mobile through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. Users can simply type “hi” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

The Australian Government has also released a coronavirus app and WhatsApp information service, which provide real-time coronavirus updates and advice. The Coronavirus Australia app is available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

To keep up to date with the latest service information and how RACV is responding to the coronavirus crisis, visit racv.com.au/covid-19.

Additional contacts

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14 
Offers short-term crisis support at any time for people e having difficulty coping or staying safe. 
lifeline.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 
A free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years. 
kidshelpline.com.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 
Mental health information and support for all Victorians. 
beyondblue.org.au

Headspace: 1800 650 893 
Online and webchat support and counselling for 12 to 25-year-olds, their family and friends. 
headspace.org.au/eheadspace/

Top COVID-19 myths, busted 


The web has gone crazy with how to protect yourself from COVID-19, but here the World Health Organisation debunks the myths.