Victorians remain in the grips of an ongoing lockdown, after Premier Daniel Andrews announced a roadmap to recovery and extended stage-four restrictions for residents of Metropolitan Melbourne, with more lenient restrictions for regional Victoria.
Below, we've answered some commonly asked questions about Melbourne's latest coronavirus lockdown rules and how they pertain to drivers. If we've missed anything, let us know in the comments section.
NB: CarAdvice is continually seeking clarity on these recent changes and how they specifically apply to the automotive industry.
This article will continue to be updated as new information on restrictions comes to hand. The most recent updates will be highlighted in red below.
What are the new restrictions for metro Melbourne?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: From 11.59pm on September 27, metro Melbourne is under Second Step restrictions.
Under these restrictions, the curfew has been lifted, limits on public outdoor gatherings have increased to up to five people from two different households and workers from certain industries will be able to work on-site (including the construction sector, childcare, warehousing, postal services and manufacturing).
Face masks remain mandatory and they must be of the fitted variety – meaning face shields, bandanas and scarves are not permitted.
People are only allowed to leave home for four reasons: shopping for food or other essential items, care-giving or to seek medical treatment, to exercise or conduct outside social activity, or to work and study if you cannot do so from home.
Metro Melbourne residents are still required to remain within a 5km radius of their home.
The third step will kick in from October 26 – provided the average cases are less than five for the preceding two weeks – and there will be no restrictions on reasons or distances for leaving home, public gatherings will be increased to 10 people, up to five visitors will be permitted at home from one other household, retail and hairdressing will reopen, hospitality will reopen for outdoor seated service and sport will return for outdoor non-contact adult sports.
What are the acceptable reasons for leaving home?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: There are four approved reasons for leaving the house:
- Shopping for food or other essential items
- Exercise and outdoor social activity with members of your household or up to five people (including you, and from a maximum of two households) as long as you do not travel more than 5km. This must be in a public outdoor space, and does not apply to people’s backyards or outdoor spaces connected to a home.
- Permitted work, and for the purposes of education. That includes taking children to school, childcare or outside school hours care service in which they are enrolled.
- Caregiving, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
What is the penalty for disobeying restrictions?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: Fines for unlawful gatherings have risen from $1650 to $5000.
Individuals face on-the-spot fines of up to $1652, or up to $9913 for businesses, for refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions, a public health risk direction or a direction by the Deputy Chief Health Officer to provide information.
"Fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses are possible through the court system," the DHHS says.
The penalty for failing to wear a mask in public is a $200 fine.
Can I leave home to inspect a house?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: Yes, private real estate inspections are permitted to take place provided only one client attends (dependants and partners are also allowed) and no residents are home.
Additionally, people inspecting a home to rent or buy are not required to obey the 5km rule, but travel into regional Victoria is not permitted.
People are not allowed to leave their home for more than two hours to conduct the inspection.
Can I drive to exercise in metro Melbourne?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: "Yes, you can drive to a location such as a park or running track within 5km of your home to exercise," the DHHS says,
"You cannot drive more than 5km from your home to exercise. You can exercise with one other person. This can be a person you live with or a friend or family member."
Permitted workers are also allowed to exercise within 5km of their workplace.
You must limit your exercise to two hours per day.
Can I drive to go shopping with someone from my household?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: Yes, people in metro Melbourne are permitted to drive to go shopping for food or essential items provided you remain within 5km of your home.
There are no longer limits on one person per household going shopping, with multiple members of the same household now permitted to go shopping together.
Can I drive further than 5km to take my child to childcare?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: Yes, you can leave your home to take your children for childcare and the 5km rule does not apply, according to the DHHS.
"You can leave your home to care for children and enter another person’s home for this purpose. This applies to all children, not just those of permitted workers," the DHHS says.
Can I drive further than 5km to access healthcare?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: According to the DHHS, the 5km limit does not apply to care and healthcare access.
How do I know if I'm a permitted worker?
LATEST UPDATE, 28/9/20: Permitted workers need to carry a Permitted Worker Permit at all times in order to travel for work.
A list of permitted workers by industry can be accessed here.
The 5km limit does not apply when travelling for permitted work.
What are the new restrictions for regional Victoria?
As of 11.59pm on 16 September, there are no restrictions on the reasons to leave home for regional Victorians.
Groups of up to 10 people are permitted to meet up outdoors and restaurants and cafes are able to reopen in a predominantly outdoor capacity.
Face coverings must still be worn by all Victorians when they leave home.
Can people in regional Victoria travel through metro Melbourne if they don't stop?
Yes, regional Victorians can travel through metropolitan Melbourne on their way to another location in regional Victoria.
If you stop in metropolitan Melbourne, it must be to obtain essential goods and services, to provide care or for work or study purposes.
Can people in regional Victoria travel to their holiday homes?
"Yes, if you live in regional Victoria and your second home or property is in regional Victoria then you can travel to your second home and stay there," the DHHS says.
"If you live in regional Victoria and your second home or property is in metropolitan Melbourne then you cannot travel or stay at your second property in metropolitan Melbourne. You can only travel to metropolitan Melbourne to carry out emergency maintenance."
Can people in regional Victoria go for a drive?
Yes, you can go for a drive if you live in regional Victoria. However, "where possible, carrying passengers in your car should be avoided, unless they live in your household or are part of your bubble," the DHHS advises.
Can I get my car serviced or repaired if I live in metro Melbourne?
Yes, from September 16, any vehicle can be booked in for a scheduled or logbook service, as well as for emergency repairs and recall work in metro Melbourne.
Those having their vehicle serviced should still observe the 5km radius rule.
For more information on scheduled servicing and repairs, read this article.
What if my mechanic or service centre is more than 5km away?
Where possible, choose the mechanic or service centre closest to you, even if it's not your regular location.
"If there isn't a service centre within the 5km radius then go to the one closest to you," Motor Trades Association of Australia CEO Richard Dudley says.
Importantly, the VACC says people who own a specialist vehicle which doesn't have a service centre within the 5km radius will be permitted to travel outside this area to have it repaired, if the repairs are critical and essential.
"If a vehicle requires a specialist and/or brand-specific workplace in order to complete repairs, then they can travel outside the five kilometre zone to access these services," the VACC says.
Can people in regional Victoria travel into metro Melbourne?
"You can only travel to metropolitan Melbourne for permitted work, care and compassionate reason, or shopping for food and necessary goods and services," the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says.
"You can only shop in metropolitan Melbourne to buy necessary goods and services such as groceries. If you go to metropolitan Melbourne for shopping for food and necessary goods and services, then the other restrictions that apply to people in metropolitan Melbourne will also apply to you.
"You may also travel to metropolitan Melbourne in an emergency or as required by law."
Can people in metro Melbourne form a social bubble with people in regional Victoria?
No, but if your partner lives in metro Melbourne and you live in regional Victoria, you are permitted to visit each other.
"However, if you are visiting your partner in metropolitan Melbourne, you must abide by the First Step restrictions. And if your partner lives in metropolitan Melbourne and visits you in regional Victoria, they must still abide by the First Step restrictions," the DHHS explains.
When can I take a road trip or drive for a weekend away?
Non-essential travel within Victoria is not permitted and will remain restricted under both the Step One restrictions in place from September 13 and the Step Two restrictions in place from September 28.
However, the Third Step in the plan will allow for travel across Victoria – except to any areas with higher restrictions.
There is no set date for this Third Step and it will only be introduced if the average number of new cases across Victoria over the last 14 days are fewer than five per day, and the total number of new cases with an unknown source in the last 14 days is zero.
From November 23, provided there are zero new cases state-wide for 14 days, Victoria can move to the Last Step of the plan, which allows all intrastate travel with accommodation permitted to reopen without restrictions.
Can I drive to visit someone else more than 5km away if I live alone?
From 11.59pm on September 13, if you live alone, you will be able to visit one designated person from another household (described as part of your "single social bubble") even if they live more than 5km from you.
This person does not have to be an intimate partner.
"If the person you nominate to be in your bubble lives with other people, you can only visit if they are at home alone. Alternatively, they can visit you at home," the DHHS explains.
Can I drive from metro Melbourne to regional Melbourne to visit someone in my social bubble?
"If you live in metropolitan Melbourne you can only form a bubble with someone in metropolitan Melbourne, not regional Victoria," the DHHS explains.
Can I drive my partner to work if they are an essential worker?
Yes, if the partner is unable to drive themselves.
"The worker needs to have an essential worker permit with them and the person driving them can only go from home to drop them off directly, without stopping anywhere in between," the DHHS says.
Given Victoria Police are enforcing restrictions, drivers are encouraged to have a copy of their partner's permit with them in order to prove they are carrying out this essential activity.
"The 5km limit does not apply where travel is for work purposes or for care reasons. All Victorians must work from home if they can," the DHHS says.
Can I drive to my intimate partner's house if they live over 5km away?
"Yes, you may drive to your partner's house for the purpose of visiting or staying overnight, even if they live further than 5km away," the DHHS says.
Can I buy a new car from a dealership?
Yes, but the process will look a little different. Car dealerships will be required to close on-site operations other than scheduled servicing and repairs from 11.59pm on Wednesday, August 5.
However, depending on the specific dealer, you will still be able to order a car online or over the phone and have it delivered to your home.
"Vehicle sales can still take place, but these will need to take place online," Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce CEO Geoff Gwilym explains.
If you have already placed an order prior to the lockdown, dealers have been permitted to stay open to fulfil these existing orders.
Can I buy a used car?
Yes, if it is within 5km of your home and the car is a necessary purchase to enable you to work or access essential goods and services.
"If you are buying a car through a private sale you can only leave home if it is necessary to buy a car at this time e.g. if you are a permitted worker and need a car to get to work," the DHHS says.
"You may be able to purchase a used car if it is necessary to do so, subject to restrictions (e.g. 5km radius from home; only one household member leaving home to obtain necessary goods and services once per day). Otherwise, purchasing a car should be postponed until Stage 4 restrictions ease," the DHHS says.
Furthermore, "if you propose to purchase a car from an individual, you must carefully consider whether it is necessary and if so, comply with Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing and wearing a face covering".
"You should not test drive a car if that involves you travelling in a car with someone you do not ordinarily live with," the DHHS adds.
Can I book a mobile mechanic?
Yes, if they are conducting essential repairs. "VACC’s interpretation of the rules would suggest mobile mechanics can operate if they are carrying out repairs to vehicles where those repairs maintain the health and safety of Victorians at home or work," the VACC says.
"They will need a Travel Permit, have a COVID Safe Plan in place and a copy in the vehicle, and the work would have to be undertaken without contact with the customer. They should also sanitise the inside of the vehicle before working on it and again when they have finished working on it."
Can I test drive a car?
Unfortunately, for the time being, test drives are not permitted under DHHS restrictions.
"Car dealerships are closed for on-site work under Stage 4 restrictions, so you will be unable to test drive a car with a dealership," the DHHS says.
Are parking restrictions still being enforced?
Yes – for the most part, parking restrictions such as clearways, permit zones and timed zones are still being enforced by officers.
There are some exemptions for certain busy shopping streets in some council areas and for essential healthcare workers.
It's best to contact your local council for updates. More details here.
How far can I drive from my home?
From 6pm on Sunday 2 August, you must stay at home and you will not be able to travel more than 5km from you home, unless it is for work, medical care or caregiving.
"You should stay as close to your home as possible, for example shopping at the nearest supermarket. For some people the nearest goods and services will be more than 5km away. In this situation you may travel beyond 5km to the nearest provider," the DHHS says.
Can I drive to collect takeaway food?
Yes, but only if you are collecting it from a location within 5km of your home.
Can I drive to visit my partner?
"Yes. If you and your partner live in different homes, you can still visit your partner," the DHHS says.
Can I drive my children to another home as part of a shared custody arrangement?
"You are permitted to leave the house to take children from one parent’s home to the other parent’s home," the DHHS says.
Do I have to wear a mask in the car?
"If you are in the car alone or with someone from your household, you do not need to wear a face covering," the DHHS says.
However, "you should put your face covering on before you leave your car. If you are driving your car for work, such as deliveries, or with people from outside your household then you are required to wear a face covering."
Can I get my car washed?
No, car washes will be required to close from 11.59pm on Wednesday, August 5.
Can I take a driving lesson?
No, according to the DHHS.
Can I have passengers in my car?
"Where possible, carrying passengers in your car should be avoided, unless they live in your household. The enclosed space of a car presents a heightened risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)," the DHHS says.
Can I drive to the supermarket with someone in my household?
No. "Only one person per household can leave home to get necessary goods and services and only once a day (this means you can’t do multiple shopping trips in a day," the DHHS says.
"You should limit the time you spend away from home. If you are unable to leave home because it would mean leaving a young child or at-risk person at home unattended then they may accompany you."
Can I go for a drive for leisure purposes if I don't leave the car?
No. According to the DHHS: "From 6pm on Sunday 2 August, you can no longer leave home to go for a drive. You can drive if you are leaving home for shopping for food and necessary supplies, medical care and caregiving and work and study, if you can’t do these from home.
"If you live in an area where Stage 3 restrictions apply then you can go for a drive but you should not leave your vehicle except for these reasons."
Can I drive to get fuel?
Yes. Fuel is classified as a "necessary good or service" under restriction guidelines.
"You should get petrol as close to home as possible. If you are travelling beyond 5km from your home for a permitted reason, such as work, care or caregiving or medical care you can attend the nearest petrol station," the DHHS says.
If you're worried, some fuel stations are providing driveway service, meaning you can fill up without leaving the car. You can find your closest fuel station offering this service by heading to the VACC website here.
Can I go on a road trip to stay in a place within the lockdown area?
No. You must only leave your home for the four approved reasons mentioned above.
Can I travel over the NSW border by car?
No. NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said roads will be monitored at all NSW border crossings using both police road blocks and drones or other aerial surveillance measures.
The penalty for disobeying the border restrictions is an $11,000 fine and six months in jail.
Can I travel over the South Australia border by car?
No. As of midnight on July 8, 2020, South Australia's border with Victoria was closed to anyone other than returning residents or those granted a special exemption for essential travel.
Can I drive to my holiday home?
No. You must not leave home for any purpose outside the aforementioned four approved reasons.
Can I take a driving test?
No. "Based on the latest medical advice, we have temporarily suspended light vehicle drive tests and all computer-based licence testing in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire under stage three restrictions," a Victorian Department of Transport spokesperson says.
Can I take public transport?
Yes, if you're travelling to complete an essential service or activity.
"Stay 1.5 metres from others you don’t live with where possible while using public transport and wash or sanitise your hands before and after using public transport. If you travel on a busy route, consider travelling outside of peak times to reduce crowding," the DHHS advises.
Can I take an Uber or Taxi?
Yes, but only if you're carrying out one of the four approved activities.
"Where possible, maintain physical distancing by sitting in the back seat, and wash or sanitise your hands before and after getting in the vehicle," the DHHS says.
Where are the drive-through coronavirus testing sites?
Pop-up testing sites change regularly. You can find an up-to-date list of all locations here.