Learners can resume driving practice if leaving home for approved reason, Premier clarifies

Learners are again able to practise driving in Melbourne if they are leaving home for one of the permitted reasons, Premier Daniel Andrews has clarified.

As restrictions begin to lift across the state, Mr Andrews moved to clarify on Tuesday some of the more frequently asked questions, including whether learners in Melbourne can continue to accrue their 120 hours of supervised driving needed to pass their test.

From Monday, they have been allowed to practise driving if they are out for one of the four permitted reasons – for example going to the supermarket or to work – but cannot go out solely for the purpose of driving practice.

They must remain within a five-kilometre radius and driving lessons are still not permitted.

There have been concerns about a backlog of tens of thousands of Victorian learner drivers who are unable to get their licences because of  COVID-19 restrictions, prompting suggestions that the P-plate driving test may need to change.

Mr Andrews also urged Melburnians to try to stay home as much as they can, reminding the public that a fine of almost $5000 applies to people who try to travel into regional Victoria without a permitted reason.

"You should not travel unless you really need to," he said on Tuesday. "I know regional communities have been a very highly motivated to make sure that we limit that movement.

"That's why Victoria Police really have stepped up their efforts at those checkpoints and, it's now a couple of weeks old now that we've had a much more significant fine, an almost $5000 on-the-spot fine if you are found in regional Victoria and you do not have a lawful reason to be there. There is too much at stake."

A man catching a train from Southern Cross Station to "visit a florist" in Wallan was one of 67 people fined in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Six men gathered at a property in the city's south-east were also each fined $1652 after police noticed there were several cars in the driveway of the home in the Greater Dandenong area.

Police found the vehicles were registered to different addresses and caught the men gathered at the property.

While the fine for unlawful gatherings was tripled to $4957 for individuals by the state government this week, a police spokeswoman said there was a process of transition for officers as they got used to the increased amount.

The public should expect to receive the larger fine in future for similar gatherings, she said.

On Monday, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said police would "very rarely" use discretion when issuing the increased fine for unlawful indoor and outdoor parties

Police have vowed to crack down on a spate of illegal parties across Victoria.

It had been an "especially bad" weekend for compliance in the state, Mr Patton said. Police disrupted a number of large parties, including one on the Surf Coast at which a group of adults had hired a jumping castle.

Other restrictions clarified on Tuesday included:

  • There is no five-kilometre limit for weddings, but you can't travel to regional Victoria unless you are the celebrant and are working.
  • All pools (indoor or outdoor) at residential premises (including apartment buildings) are to remain closed, and only outdoor pools at a non-residential premises are open.
  • Victorians are allowed to travel across the metro border for childcare, but Melburnians have to follow the second-step restrictions while they are there.
  • Cricket nets can be used in public spaces as long as they do not require facilities.
  • Dog groomers in Melbourne can operate only at retail sites – not from home.
  • Painters can carry out emergency repairs at occupied properties but there is to be no interior design or renovations. Gardening and landscaping services by sole traders can resume as long as the work is contactless and can be done safely alone.

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