Coronavirus: Stage 3 and walking in Victoria

31 Mar 2020

UPDATE: The Victorian Government annouced most national parks would reopen Wednesday May 13th - however nine popular sits remain closed. See this link for information on Parks Victoria closures and restrictions on recreational activities here including whether it is OK to drive to a place of exercise.

The State Government has moved Victoria to stage three restrictions on movement and gatherings in public places as part of its plan to contain the spread of Cornonavirus (Covid 19). Effective from today, March 31st, the new restrictions mean Victorians who are not under social isolation or quarantine due to illness or suspected illness, may now only leave home for necessary food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education (ie: if unable to work or study from home).   

All Victorian playgrounds and skate parks have also been closed. 

While acknowledging the importance of daily exercise the stage three restrictions mean those who wish to take a walk can no longer walk as part of a group. Victorians may only walk with one other person and must continue to practice social distancing.

The maximum two people rule does not apply if you are walking with members of your immediate family or household. Several members of a family or household may continue to walk together but must give passing space of at least 1.5 metres to other walkers or family groups they encounter. 

While the new restrictions don't formally control where people can go for exercise, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews urged Victorians to stay local.

In a Tweet yesterday Mr Andrews wrote:  

'And just so we're clear: 'getting some exercise' means going for a walk round the block or a bike ride to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. It means staying local – not driving for miles or being out all day.'  

The number of government-controlled parks, gardens and beaches that have been closed has also been increased to reflect the tighter restrictions and to discourage larger numbers of people from exercising in popular locations. However, the majority of parks remain open.  

Federal Minister for Tourism Simon Birmingham told the ABC last week people should not be undertaking “non-essential” travel. "Don't go on a holiday, don't congregate in numbers with friends ... but yes, you can get out into the outdoors and take a walk."  

People setting out for a walk should also check local council websites or social media. Many councils in regional or coastal areas are actively discouraging non-residents from visiting - expressing concerns that an influx of people accessing local businesses, facilities and public spaces will exacerbate the spread of the virus in smaller communities and place additional strain on resources such as grocery supplies and medical facilities.

PHOTO: Emma Simpson care of Unsplash