Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews shocked citizens as well as small business owners when he announced on Sunday that Melbourne would remain under level 4 restrictions for at least another seven weeks.

When the restrictions were put in place in early July – effectively halting the state’s economy – Melburnians were hopeful that the six-week plan would see them begin to re-open in mid-September.

However, even with daily cases steadily falling, the Premier emphasised the need for a “steady and safe” transition out of restrictions, thereby extending the current measures for the retail sector  until at least October 26. The only way this date may be brought forward is if Victoria begins to record an average of less than five new cases over two weeks, with less than five unknown cases over that time. Sixty three cases were diagnosed in the state yesterday.

While gyms, fitness centres and studios will be able to open in this “third step”, beauty and personal care businesses will not be permitted to trade.

Salon owners are looking at an estimated date of November 23 before they’ll be permitted to re-commence business. This is hinged on Victoria recording no new COVID-19 cases for 14 days.

The Premier stressed that emerging too quickly from lockdown carried the threat of undoing the work his state’s residents had already carried out.

“If we go too far too soon, the modelling also tells us we’d be on track for a third wave by mid-November,” Andrews said in a statement.

“That’d mean we’re back to where we are now, maybe even worse. Days, weeks, months of sacrifice – gone.”

Lastly, Victoria will move to “COVID Normal” restrictions once the state has no active cases, there are no “outbreaks of concern” in other states, and no new cases are recorded for 28 days. This step will allow all businesses to open with COVIDSafe plans.

The Premier has said he will most likely be announcing new financial assistance plans for small businesses in the coming days.

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