Eliminating household 'bubbles' and increasing patrons in hospitality venues are two of the major changes to come into effect across Ballarat and regional Victoria tonight.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced from 11.59pm, two adults and dependents from any family will be able to visit a home once a day, bringing the household 'bubble' to an end.
And in pleasing news for hospitality venues, 40 patrons (10 groups of four) inside and 70 customers outside will be allowed (up from 20 inside and 50 outside).
Groups of 20 people will be allowed to gather outside for religious gatherings - 50 people from November 1.
The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to The Courier there are no changes to weddings.
Bookworms will be able to visit a library but there will be a limit of 20 at a time.
Other changes include sport, swimming and Melbourne residents who own a home in regional Victoria (See the full changes below).
Even somewhat minor, these changes will be welcome relief for individuals and businesses across the state who have been doing it tough since the pandemic began earlier this year.
The 'ring of steel' between the regions and Melbourne will remain, with Mr Andrews saying it will be 'strengthened'. He did he say he would like it to be gone by Christmas.
"I've announced today what is safe but what will not undermine the efforts that Victorians have put in," Mr Andrews said.
Changes to come into effect from 11.59pm on Sunday
- Hospitality venues can increase their capacity to 40 people (four groups of 10) inside and 70 people outside
- Two adults and dependents will be able to visit a home once a day - there will no longer be a social 'bubble' where you have to nominate just one household. Infants under 12 months are not included in this cap
- Libraries will reopen with a maximum of 20 people
- Outdoor religious gatherings up to 20 people (and 50 from November 1) - infants under 12 months not included in cap
- Indoor pools will open for people aged 18 and under for up to 20 swimmers
- One-on-one hydroptherapy will be allowed
- Households can visit care facilities (rather than one person at a time)
- Outdoor contact and non-contact sport: allowed for people 18 and under - Limited to minimum number of people to play and facilitate the activity (e.g. cricket may be played with two teams of eleven players and the necessary coaching personnel and umpires)
- Outdoor non-contact sport: allowed for adults - Limited to minimum number of people to play and facilitate the activity (e.g. cricket may be played with two teams of eleven players and the necessary coaching personnel and umpires) - Non-contact means participants must be able to maintain distance of 1.5m
- 'Ring of steel' to continue and being 'strengthened' according to the premier
Changes to come into effect from October 21
- Melbourne residents who own a house in regional Victoria can apply to regional councils for a permit so they can visit to prepare their homes for floods and fire. Read more about it HERE
Changes to come into effect from November 1
- Non-contact indoor sport for under-18s - such as dance classes - will resume for up to 20 people
- Non-contact indoor community sport for under 18-year-olds: spectators limited to one parent, guardian or carer per child
READ THE FULL RULES FOR REGIONAL VICTORIA BELOW
Major restrictions remain
- Approved face masks must be worn at all times outside home
- Work from home if possible
- All businesses must have a COVID-safe plan
The easing of restrictions come on a day when Victoria recorded just two more COVID-19 cases across the state.
The new cases and zero deaths in the past 24 hours follows the previous one case announced on Saturday and two cases on Friday, in what Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton described as a "remarkable achievement".
He said Victoria was "heading in the right direction".
The statistics show the 14-day rolling average of new cases up to Saturday stands at 7.5 (down from 8.1) for metropolitan Melbourne and 0.5 (unchanged) for regional areas.
This time last month, Victoria recorded 45 new cases and five further deaths.
Ballarat has not had an active infection for about five weeks.
Meanwhile, health authorities are scrambling in Melbourne following the arrival of 55 - not 17 as previously thought - New Zealanders in Sydney and then Melbourne on Friday despite Victoria not being part of the quarantine-free arrangement.
"We have been able to find 23 ... we are still working to find the balance," Mr Andrews said.
"We have been given a list, 12 hours after they arrived. We are ringing them, one of them was in Byron Bay."
But acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge insists Victorian chief medical officer Brett Sutton was at the meeting where authorisation was given for individuals who arrived in Sydney from New Zealand to then travel to Victoria.
"So the Victorian government was present when it was discussed, they were made aware that this was going to occur, they raised no objections in the meetings," Mr Tudge told reporters.
But Mr Andrews said this was not the case.
"Seriously, my advice to minister Tudge is, instead of stubbornly defending this, work with us and let's make sure Victoria is not part of a bubble we never agreed to be in," the premier said.
Health authorities continue to investigate Victoria's 15 'mystery' cases for the fortnight up to Thursday.
SEE OUR LIVE COVERAGE BELOW (IT MAY TAKE A MOMENT TO LOAD)