Victoria's coronavirus restrictions scaled back

CHEER: Bendigo Heritage Attractions are jumping for joy, following the announcement they would be back working at Central Deborah Gold Mine. Picture: DARREN HOWE
CHEER: Bendigo Heritage Attractions are jumping for joy, following the announcement they would be back working at Central Deborah Gold Mine. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Christmas has come early at Bendigo Heritage Attractions, following the announcement they'd be able to trade again from Monday

Chief executive James Reade said preparations are already underway to reopen the Central Deborah Gold Mine.

"We are very excited to have more than 50 staff back and working from this weekend," Mr Reade said.

"For now, the mine will be open from Friday to Sunday, with announcements about Joss House and Bendigo Tramways in the coming days.

The reopening of the gold mine came following Premier Daniel Andrews' confirmation that coronavirus restrictions would be eased statewide, from Monday.

The number of people permitted at private gatherings, religious ceremonies and hospitality venues has been increased statewide, while indoor entertainment venues such as museums, galleries and cinemas will reopen for the first time in months.

There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home or distance that can be travelled by Victorians from Monday, following an announcement by Premier Daniel Andrews.

'TIS THE SEASON: Santa, with reindeers in tow, recently stopped by the Central Deborah Gold Mine to visit his elves ahead of the festive season. Picture: DARREN HOWE

'TIS THE SEASON: Santa, with reindeers in tow, recently stopped by the Central Deborah Gold Mine to visit his elves ahead of the festive season. Picture: DARREN HOWE

The "ring of steel" separating regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne has been removed and is one of a number of changes to the state's COVID-19 roadmap, announced last Sunday.

Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said the state has been brought back together again as a result of everyone's hard work.

"It's been really challenging but we have all stuck by the rules and it's great central Victorian families are able to take this big step forward," Ms Allan said.

Religious gatherings

LET US PRAY: Bishop of Sandhurst Most Reverend Shane Mackinlay is calling on the state government to apply its COVID-19 roadmap consistently. Picture: DARREN HOWE

LET US PRAY: Bishop of Sandhurst Most Reverend Shane Mackinlay is calling on the state government to apply its COVID-19 roadmap consistently. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Bishop of Sandhurst Most Reverend Shane Mackinlay said abolishing the "ring of steel" is a significant step forward, but questions remain as to why the number of people gathered for religious ceremonies is not comparable to the hospitality sector.

"There is still no reason for religious gatherings to be on a lower number than hospitality, which seems a relevant comparison.

As part of the most recent changes, indoor and outdoor attendance limits for religious ceremonies in metropolitan Melbourne now match those in regional Victoria.

Up to 50 people are permitted to attend outdoor funerals, with 20 allowed indoors.

For religious ceremonies, up to 50 people plus one faith leader are permitted outdoors, with 20 people plus one faith leader indoors.

"We were right in line with hospitality until a couple of months ago and while these changes are significant, we haven't been given a satisfactory explanation as to why our restrictions are harsher," Bishop Mackinlay said.

By comparison, hospitality venues can seat 40 patrons per venue indoors, subject to density limits and up to 70 patrons outdoors.

Food processors 

The food processing sector also earned a reprieve, with workforce caps removed across the state's meat, poultry and seafood processing centres.

"Meat and poultry processors are a big employer in our region and I want to commend those businesses on the work they've done to ensure they operate at the highest COVID Safe levels," Ms Allan said.

The sector was ravaged by coronavirus outbreaks in July and August, impacting operations at Don KR Castlemaine and Hazeldene's Chicken Farm.

Subject to closures since March, venues with electronic gaming venues will be able to cater to 25 per cent of the venue's indoor hospitality limit, to a limit of 40 patrons, or 10 per electronic gaming room.

Creative studios, including venues for art and music can reopen from Monday, as part of the changes.

Restrictions are forecasted to ease again from November 23, where it is expected that gathering limits will increase and patron caps and quotas will rise at hospitality and recreation venues.

This story Tourism operators celebrate as restrictions lifted first appeared on Bendigo Advertiser.