The timing of the AFL grand final is "unfortunate" for Melbourne footy fans, Victorian health boss Brett Sutton says, as police prepare to stamp out mass celebrations.
By contrast regional Victoria has been enjoying looser restrictions for a month and the weekend's COVID restriction decisions have doubled some venue capacity with many Ballarat hotels now allowed up to 40 people inside and 70 outside to potentially enjoy Saturday's big game.
Ballarat residents will also be allowed to have two others plus dependents over to their house to watch Saturday's all-Victorian decider between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba in Brisbane.
But Melburnians won't be allowed.
IS IT FAIR? HAVE YOUR SAY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE
Professor Sutton said the grand final had come too early to allow Melbourne people from other households to visit.
"It does present a risk if people are not following the advice that we have given all along," he told reporters.
"If we were at that point where we thought we could recommend those indoor household gatherings we would be saying that. It is not quite there yet.
"It's not far away and, in a way, it is a little bit unfortunate that this is the timing of the grand final."
Prof Sutton said there might still be virtual avenues for footy nuts to engage with each other throughout the blockbuster clash.
"It would be great if people could work out ways to do it in a way that they can have their beers at home or shout and scream with their family, with their immediate family or household members," he said.
"Maybe linked up by Zoom or any other social media mechanism, so that they can share their enthusiasm or heartbreak."
IN OTHER NEWS
Police Minister Lisa Neville said officers would have a substantial presence across Melbourne and Geelong, although she conceded it might be hard to stop Tigers fans swarming Swan St as they did after their 2017 premiership triumph.
"Victoria Police don't enjoy doing this but they are required to enforce the restrictions and they will be out in force across the grand final and really over the long weekend," she said.
Victoria Police don't enjoy doing this but they are required to enforce the restrictions and they will be out in force across the grand final and really over the long weekendPolice Minister Lisa Neville
"I just say let's hold on and celebrate in a quieter way than we're used to and hopefully the weekend after (or) at Christmas we can have a much better celebration."
The latest freedoms in metropolitan Melbourne only allow up to 10 people from two households to gather outdoors, meaning the group could potentially tune in to the decider via their phones or other electronic devices.
Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said it might have been safer to allow Melburnians to gather in beer gardens and pubs in a socially-distanced manner.
"If you tell people you can't watch the footy with any friends under any circumstances I suspect some people will break the rules," he said.
"And that is the last thing we want to see in Victoria."
Despite the traditional teams parade also moving north, Victoria's grand final eve public holiday will go ahead on Friday.
The statewide holiday has been rebadged "Thank You Day", in honour of the Victorians who have made lockdown sacrifices.
HAVE YOUR SAY BELOW