State officials eased restrictions for regional Victoria from 23:59 (local time) on Wednesday, September 16, while maintaining tighter measures in metropolitan Melbourne. Regional Victoria will enter step three of the government's four-step reopening roadmap. Under the third step, travel outside the home is permitted without limits on distance, although residents are not allowed to enter areas under higher restrictions, such as Melbourne. Residents can host up to five people from one other household at their home. Public gatherings of up to ten people are permitted, with 20 allowed at funerals. The hospital sector can resume operations with outdoor seating only and nonessential retail outlets can reopen. Hairdressers can reopen, but most other personal care services remain closed. Schools will also reopen with social-distancing measures in place.
Melbourne entered the first step of the reopening roadmap on Monday, September 14. Under this step, residents can leave their homes only for permitted reasons, including work, school, providing or receiving care, or for exercise. People living alone are permitted to host one other person and gatherings of up to two people from different households or from the same home are permitted outdoors for up to two hours. Travel is limited to within 5 km (3 mi) from residences. Restaurants and cafes are only permitted to offer takeaway services. Curfew hours have been reduced to 21:00 to 05:00. Further details on Victoria's restrictions can be found on the state's website.
International flights have been diverted from Melbourne by the federal government at the request of the Victorian government since July 1. Interstate travel also remains banned until further notice.
As of Thursday, September 17, Victorian health authorities have confirmed 19,970 COVID-19 cases, with 745 associated deaths. Nationwide Australia has recorded 26,813 cases and 832 deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China).
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover the mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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