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New rules for masks and social gatherings in Melbourne as premier eases coronavirus restrictions

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Melbourne’s mandatory COVID-19 face mask rules have been further eased as the city lifts caps on social gatherings and investigates a breach of quarantine rules which sent a plane-load of travellers into isolation.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday confirmed that masks must still be carried at all times and worn on public transport and at indoor shopping centres and crowded places.

But from midnight Sunday, Melburnians should use their judgment as to when masks are needed in instances where 1.5-metre social distancing can’t be achieved.

“Masks have been a great insurance policy and remain as such,” he said.

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From midnight on Sunday, Melbourne households will be able to receive 30 visitors a day, from multiple other homes. Mr Andrews also announced easing workplace restrictions from early 2021.

Amid Sunday’s announcements, state and federal health authorities have ordered 176 passengers and crew from a flight into Melbourne to enter isolation.

A coronavirus risk emerged after two travellers, believed to be from Germany, failed to enter mandatory quarantine in Sydney and boarded Virgin flight VA838 which landed in Melbourne at 1.25pm on Saturday.

The pair has since tested negative to COVID, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“Until such time as these two international travellers return their next negative test, which we remain positive about, unfortunately the 176-plus people on that plane … are required to self-isolate,” Mr Foley said.

Federal and state authorities are investigating how the pair were able to skip quarantine in Sydney.

Victoria on Sunday reported a 37th day without a case of locally transmitted coronavirus, but Mr Andrews served a stern warning.

“This thing is not done. It is not over, it can come back,” Mr Andrews said.

“While today we can take some big steps, not to normal, but to a COVID-safe summer, we all need to remain vigilant and we all need to play our part.”

A revamped hotel quarantine program, using police and Defence Force personnel, will be put to the test from Monday as Melbourne reopens to international arrivals.

Five international flights from Colombo, Doha, Hong Kong and Singapore are scheduled to arrive at Melbourne Airport on Monday.

Daily arrivals will be initially capped at 160 people.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

RELATED:  SA restrictions ease as state records sixth day of no new COVID cases

News and information is available in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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