127,000 workers get back to work as Melbourne moves to Step Two

27 September 2020

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has given the green light for Metropolitan Melbourne to begin its journey out of lockdown, announcing the city’s move to ‘Step Two’, along with the reopening of some businesses.


On 27 September, Daniel Andrews announced metropolitan Melbourne will move to ‘Step Two’ in Victoria’s Roadmap To Recovery, along with the removal of he curfew from midnight. While people living in metropolitan Melbourne will enjoy their new-found freedoms, the city still lags behind regional Victoria which currently operates under more relaxed Step Three restrictions.

Under the Victorian Government’s Roadmap to Recovery, metropolitan Melbourne was required to have an average of 30 to 50 new cases of COVID-19 over a two-week period in order to trigger moving to Stage Two on 28 September. The two-week average currently sits at 22.1 with 444 active cases across Victoria.

In order for metropolitan Melbourne to join regional Victoria and progress to Step Three, Victoria will need to report less than an average of five new cases across the state, each day over a 14-day period and fewer than five cases with an unknown source statewide.

As of Monday morning, workers in the manufacturing, childcare and pet grooming sectors will be among those allowed to return to work as long their employer has a COVIDSafe plan in place. However, most other sectors, including retail, hospitality and entertainment will remain under restrictions.

“127,000 workers will return to various industries. Each of those industries will have a COVIDSafe plan... when we announced the roadmap some three weeks ago, we had hoped to have some 100,000 workers go back to work. We are essentially having almost 30,000 additional workers go back to work from midnight tonight – that’s exactly what we want, that’s exactly what this strategy is all about,” said Premier Daniel Andrews.

The 30,000 additional workers returning to site will primarily come from the meat processing industries as they move to 80 per cent and 90 per cent of capacity – based on what product is produced.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Chief Executive Paul Guerra celebrated the announcement, but acknowledges more is needed to be done to get people back to work.

“Today is a good start for 130,000 Victorians who will head to the workplace tomorrow, but the task now is to get remaining industries back to work. With extremely low case numbers in regional Victoria, we would hope to see further easing of restrictions in coming days,” said Mr Guerra.

“Melbourne’s progression to the Roadmap’s second step is testament to the commitment and resolve of Victorians, but we must acknowledge that managing COVID-19 comes at the expense of so many businesses, jobs and livelihoods.”

What is changing

The most significant announcement that came from the Premier’s press conference on Sunday, was the revelation that the timeframes initially put in place by the State Government’s Roadmap to Recovery will no longer be in place.

Victoria’s progression through the ‘Steps’ will now be entirely based on ‘trigger points’ and case number data – reflecting the lower-than-expected numbers currently reported across the state, rather than arbitrary dates.


In a statement released on 27 September, the Premier said “the ‘trigger point’ for review by our public health team will be based solely on reaching our case number targets. That means the sooner we hit those targets – the sooner we can consider our next steps.”

All Victorians will now be required to wear a fitted face mask, covering the nose and mouth. Scarves, bandannas and face shields on their own will no longer be permitted in public or the workplace.

Up to five people will now be allowed to meet outdoors.

After 11:59pm on 27 September, Melburnians will no longer be restricted by the 9pm to 5am curfew, which will be scrapped entirely. The ‘one person, once a day’ shopping rule will also be lifted, but the Premier has warned “this is not an invitation for the entire family to go to the supermarket… common sense applies.”

While VCE, VCAL and Prep to Grade Two students were also expected to return to the classroom in Step Two, the Government is extending the acceptance to all Primary school students. Apprentices and university students in their final year of study will be also be able to attend onsite learning and assessments.

Rules regarding fishing, hiking and outdoor exercise have been relaxed, those who are currently working will now be allowed to exercise within five kilometers of their workplace, as well as five kilometers from home.

Help and support

For up-to-date information and resources to help you and your business get back to work safely, visit our Reopen, restart and recovery page of our website.

For more information on the Victorian Chamber’s advocacy work and current campaigns, along with submissions and taskforces, visit the Policy and Advocacy section of our website. If you have any questions or would like to be involved in our advocacy work, please contact policy@victorianchamber.com.au

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