Victorians are in the grips of another lockdown, after a steep rise in the state's coronavirus cases prompted Premier Daniel Andrews to re-implement stay-at-home restrictions for residents of Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
From 6pm on Sunday, August 2, residents of Metropolitan Melbourne are required to obey stage-four restrictions and a curfew from 8pm to 5am, while stage-three restrictions will be in place from 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August for Regional Victoria, including Mitchell Shire
With the rate of community transmission a major concern, the Premier also mandated that any Victorians aged 12 or older wear a mask when leaving the house.
UPDATE, 7/8/2020: This article will continue to be updated as new information on restrictions comes to hand.
From midnight on July 7, 2020, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian closed the border with Victoria until further notice.
With Victoria Police enforcing restrictions, businesses forced to close and residents urged to stay at home unless they're completing an essential activity, confusion is rife as to what the restrictions actually mean for everyday activities.
Below, we've answered some commonly asked questions about Victoria'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.
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 and 8pm curfew does not apply where travel is for work purposes or for care reasons. All Victorians must work from home if they can and ensure any travel during curfew hours is for a permitted purpose," 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.
"However, you are not permitted to move between your home and your partner's home during the curfew (between 8pm and 5am), unless it is for a permitted reason such as in an emergency, you do not feel safe or if you are travelling to your partner's house after work."
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.
"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".
Can I get my car serviced or repaired?
Only essential and critical vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance is permitted – not scheduled servicing.
"Some vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance businesses and retailers selling motor vehicle parts for emergency repairs may be open for on-site work (subject to restrictions). You may still be able to get your vehicle serviced under Stage 4 restrictions if necessary or if taken in for essential repairs," the DHHS says.
Translation? According to the VACC, which sought advice from the state government, "only services covering essential and critical 'vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance' are permitted to open for on-site work with a COVID Safe Plan in place".
"This does not include routine servicing, however, but would include urgent recalls."
In a nutshell, Motor Trades Association of Australia CEO Richard Dudley says, "your 20,000km service can't go ahead, but Takata airbag recall replacement can".
"Additionally, if you get a warning light on your dashboard that needs urgent attention, that is a safety issue and thus an essential service [and you can have it fixed]."
For more detailed information on scheduled servicing and repairs, read this article.
What if my mechanic or service centre is more than 5km away?
Where possible, when seeking emergency or critical repairs, 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 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.
Can I rent a car?
"Car rental agencies are not specifically listed as a permitted work premises," 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 observing curfew hours.
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 be on the road during curfew hours if I don't leave my car?
No, unless you are on the road for permitted work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. You may also leave your home in an emergency.
Can I drive to collect takeaway food?
Yes, but only if you are collecting it from a location within 5km of your home and obeying curfew hours.
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 exercise in another suburb?
No. The state government has discouraged "unreasonable travel", which includes "travel within the restricted area to do exercise or outdoor recreation where that type of exercise can be done closer to home".
Can I drive to get fuel?
Yes. Fuel is classified as a "necessary good or service" under restriction guidelines.
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.
What are the acceptable reasons for leaving home?
There are four approved reasons for leaving the house:
- Shopping for food or other essential items
- To provide care giving, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
- For exercise (outdoor exercise only, with only one other person or members of your household)
- Work or study, if you cannot work or study from home
What is the penalty for disobeying restrictions?
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 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.
"Public transport will continue to operate, but with a reduced schedule in metropolitan Melbourne during curfew hours," the DHHS says.
"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.