Millions of residents locked down in Victoria are being reminded they cannot leave the area to exercise including to play community sport being held elsewhere or for a trip to the ski fields.
Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire, to the city’s north, returned to stage three restrictions for six weeks from 11.59pm last Wednesday.
The only reasons residents can leave home are to go to work or school, for care or care giving, daily exercise and to buy food or other essentials.
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“You have got to be in your home if you are in the metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire other than for the four reasons and only when you absolutely need to leave your home for one of those four reasons,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday, announcing 216 new coronavirus cases.
“I will just make the point again that the exercise reason, one of those four, obviously is to go and get some fresh air, take some daily exercise.
“You cannot leave the metropolitan area if you are in the metropolitan area, and you can’t leave Mitchell Shire beyond, as in going further into regional Victoria, if you are in Mitchell Shire.
“That is just about trying to do everything we can to limit this getting into regional areas.”
He said there have been low case numbers or no cases recorded in parts of regional Victoria.
“But we are being extraordinarily vigilant around that issue,” Mr Andrews said.
He acknowledged it was “very frustrating” and “inconvenient” but every single Victorian would “ultimately benefit” if the strategy proves a success.
“It is the simple stuff, the common sense, just doing the right thing, the smart thing, that’s how we will get to the other side of this,” he said.
“This is not an ordinary weekend. It is anything but that.”
WHAT SORT OF EXERCISE IS ALLOWED?
The Department of Health and Human Services advises many facilities including indoor sporting centres and swimming pools will be closed in the locked down areas.
“If you live in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, you cannot travel outside of the area to exercise and for outdoor recreation,” the department advises.
“If you live in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, you are not permitted to use these facilities elsewhere.”
Residents can leave their home to exercise outdoors in a public space either on their own, with people they live with or with a friend or family member from another household.
“This includes walking, running, hiking, bike riding, surfing, kayaking and other types of exercise such as yoga in the park,” the DHHS states.
“While exercising with people outside your household, you should keep at least 1.5m between yourself and others.
“You should also stay close to home and use common sense and consideration when it comes to these activities.”
The DHHS states exercise between two people cannot be in a manner that “would mean you are less than 1.5m apart e.g. in a double kayak”.
Personal training outdoors is limited to the trainer and two participants and equipment must not be shared.
Outdoor facilities are capped at 10 “unless each group of two can maintain 100m distance from all other people”.
“Examples of outdoor facilities which may be able to open under these requirements include golf courses, footy ovals, tennis courts, or outdoor shooting ranges,” the restrictions state.
WHAT ABOUT THE SKI FIELDS?
Earlier this week, Falls Creek and Mount Hotham announced their ski lift operations had been suspended for the next six weeks to coincide with the Melbourne lockdown until August 19.
Vail Resorts said the decision was made “after careful consideration” and is “consistent with the current stay at home directions”.
“We did not make this decision lightly as we know our employees, guests and the communities where we operate have already endured so much hardship this year,” Vail Resorts Australia senior vice president Pete Brulisauer said in a statement.
“However, we are focused first and foremost on health and safety, following local health guidelines and doing our part to support efforts across Victoria to address the recent rise in coronavirus cases.
“We recognise this is incredibly disappointing to our guests and pass holders, including those who have made reservations at Hotham and Falls Creek this season. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this incredibly challenging time.”
All reservations for lift tickets, ski and ride lessons, and rental bookings at the two resorts will be cancelled and fully refunded.
Customers are being asked to wait to be provided with information on processing refunds rather than contacting the centres at this time.
“Guests who purchased a 2020 Epic Australia Pass, who have not used the pass and who do not wish to proceed with their pass purchase, may obtain a refund by making a request here no later than Sunday 12 July,” Vail Resorts said.
“After the 12 July refund deadline, the 2020 Epic Australia Pass is non-refundable except as provided for under Epic Coverage and under Australian Consumer Law.”
Mt Buller has decided to stay open but the number of lift passes available each day is capped.
“Snowing on and off today. Here’s hoping for more white stuff for our regional Vicco friends because we’re staying open!” the alpine resort said on Facebook on Saturday.
“From a lockdown area? Stay safe, follow the guidelines, and we’ll see you on the flip side for some hopefully MEGA spring skiing.”
The post was peppered with comments from “devastated” Melburnians.
“Fingers crossed we can visit in six weeks,” one woman wrote.
Another said: “It pays off to be living in regional Vic.”