Melbourne stage 4 restrictions and Covid lockdown rules explained

Josh Taylor
·8-min read
<span>Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Stage four restrictions have been introduced across metropolitan Melbourne from Sunday 2 August for six weeks.

Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said the restrictions have been brought in to get community transmission – cases where the source of the transmission cannot be determined – under control. Andrews said government modelling showed that without these measures, stage three restrictions would need to last six months.

Here are some of the main things you need to know about the stage 4 restrictions for Melbourne.


When does the lockdown start?

The stage four restrictions covering metropolitan Melbourne run from Sunday 2 August and will last for six weeks until Sunday 13 September.

Additional restrictions on businesses were announced on Monday 3 August, and most of them will start from 12.01 Thursday 6 August. Andrews also said further details will be announced throughout the week.

When can I leave my house?

You are only allowed to leave your house for four reasons: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise and work. Employers must support you to work from home if you can work from home.

Unlike stage three, there is now a curfew on Melbourne residents between 8pm and 5am.

Caregiving includes managing shared custody arrangements, using a babysitter, leaving home to care for animals housed elsewhere, visiting someone in an aged care home and visiting someone in hospital. Specific directions apply.

You can leave your house if you are at risk of family violence or to apply for an intervention order, and to attend court or a police station.

You can also leave your house to access medical services. This time around, that explicitly includes leaving your house to give blood. Access to medical services is unrestricted: you can access them anywhere in Victoria.

How far can I travel from home?

Shopping for food and necessary supplies must be within 5km distance from your home, except if the nearest supermarket is further than 5km.

Only one person per household can leave to go shopping per day.

Exercise must take place within 5km of home, and must be in metropolitan Melbourne. Exercise is limited to one hour, once per day.

What are the rules for wearing masks?

It has been mandatory for people in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell shire to wear face coverings in public since midnight on Wednesday 22 July. That rule is extended to the entire state from midnight Sunday 2 August.

Related: Australia's Covid-19 face mask advice: are reusable or washable masks best, and what are the rules?

People must wear a mask or covering whenever leaving the house. There are a few exceptions. People with a medical reason are exempt, as are children younger than 12. Those who have a professional reason are also exempt and “if it’s just not practical, like when running”, but those people will still be expected to carry a face covering at all times “to wear when you can”.

In schools, teachers will not need to wear a face covering while teaching, but students attending classes will. Both teachers and students will need to wear a mask on the way to and from school.

Andrews said “common sense” would guide how the new rules are enforced.

Breaking the rules is punishable with a $200 fine.

Is my municipality included?

All local government areas within metropolitan Melbourne will be affected. That includes:

Banyule, Hume, Moreland, Bayside, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Boroondara, Knox, Nillumbik, Brimbank, Manningham, Port Phillip, Cardinia, Maribyrnong, Stonnington, Casey, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Darebin, Melbourne, Whittlesea, Frankston, Melton, Wyndham, Glen Eira, Monash, Yarra, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Yarra Ranges, Hobsons Bay.

Regional Victoria will return to stage three restrictions from Wednesday. You can find out more about stage three here.

Can I have visitors to my house? Can I see my partner?

You cannot have visitors or go to another person’s house unless it is for the purpose of giving or receiving care. You can leave your house to visit a person if you are in an “intimate personal relationship” with them, even during curfew hours. That is, there is no “bonk ban”.

If your partner lives outside Melbourne and/or 5km of your home you can still visit them. If you stay at your partner’s place after 8pm, you must stay there until the next morning. That is, you can’t go home from there between 8pm and 5am.

Cleaners, tradespeople, gardeners, painters and renovators are not allowed to visit your house for work. Exceptions exist for emergency issues like a burst pipe, and for providing care for welfare and wellbeing like Meals on Wheels . But “it’s not the time to be painting your house or having unnecessary, non-urgent work happen,” Andrews said on Monday.

Do I have to stay in Melbourne?

The stay-at-home rules apply to your main place of residence so you will not be able to get out of Melbourne and stay in your holiday house. The government says this is to stop the virus being spread to other parts of the state.

Can I still dine in at a restaurant or cafe?

No. Restaurants and cafes will only be able to trade as takeaway and delivery businesses.

Will the shops be open?

Supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, and local bakers and butchers will be allowed to trade but subject to density rules limited by people per square metre.

General retail will be closed from 12.01 Thursday 6 August. Stores will still be allowed to operate contactless pick-up, delivery and “click and collect”. Hardware stores will be open to tradespeople only.

Strictly speaking, you will only be allowed to go to the shops to buy food and essential items. If you need help with shopping, or need to help a friend or family member, you can go shopping together but remain 1.5m apart.

What about other businesses and services?

Pubs, bars and nightclubs will be closed and bottle shops will be takeaway only. Beauty services and hairdressers will be closed.

Entertainment and cultural venues such as music venues, museums, indoor and outdoor cinemas, and the casino will be shut. Brothels and strip clubs will also shut. Libraries and community venues can only stay open for essential services, or to host funerals.

Real estate inspections will be by appointment only and auctions will be conducted remotely.

What are the changes to warehouses and abattoirs?

Warehouses (in Melbourne) will be limited to two-thirds of their normal workforce onsite at any time from Thursday 6 August.

Abattoirs (across all of Victoria) will also be limited to two-thirds of their normal workforce, with strict safety measures in place akin to being a frontline health worker.

What is happening to construction?

Major private construction projects will be limited to only 25% of their normal workforce onsite from Thursday 6 August.

Small construction, such as home renovations or new homes, will be limited to only five people onsite. Government construction projects have already halved the number of people onsite, and the government is looking to reduce them on a project-by-project basis.

How do I get a permitted worker permit?

If your organisation is in the list of industries allowed to remain open in any form, you are able to fill out a form with your employer that you can present if asked by police if stopped travelling while working.

You can present the document, or a photo of the document of your phone if needed.

Can I still move house?

People can still move house, but it must happen within curfew hours. The Victorian government advises people to take extra precautions, including wearing a mask.

What are the rules for exercise?

Exercise is still a permitted reason to leave your house. But you will not be allowed to leave metropolitan Melbourne to exercise, meaning long bush walks or leaving Melbourne to go fishing or golfing are no longer permitted.

Exercise can only happen within 5km of home, and must be in metropolitan Melbourne. Exercise is limited to one hour, once per day.

Swimming pools, playgrounds and gyms will be shut, and community sport will also stop.

You can exercise with one other person, including members of your household.

What is happening with schools?

Year 11 and 12 students, along with all other students, will return to remote learning from Wednesday across Victoria, except for children of permitted workers and vulnerable children.

Childcare and kinder will be closed except for children of permitted workers and vulnerable children.

What happens to weddings, funerals or religious services?

Religious services will need to be broadcast online. Weddings will no longer be permitted from Thursday, 6 August, while the limit will be 10 people at funerals (not including those conducting the service).

Holiday accomodation and camping venues must close. Travel within Victoria is allowed only for work and only if necessary.

Can I travel to Melbourne?

You cannot travel to Melbourne unless it’s for work or study, medical care and caregiving, shopping for food or supplies. Exercise is not a valid reason to travel.

You can travel through Melbourne on your way to somewhere else, but it’s recommended you don’t stop unless it’s for one of those three reasons.

What if I break the rules?

Andrews has said police will monitor traffic seeking to leave metropolitan Melbourne and officers would also enforce the restrictions within the city. Victoria police can issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 to businesses.

Andrews indicated more penalties were being considered.

  • Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure it reflects the current situation at the date of publication. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will continue to be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.