Recreational flying in Victoria will be effectively ruled out from Thursday after the state’s government extended its ‘stage three’ lockdown beyond Melbourne.
The new rules mean there are only four reasons citizens can leave their homes – shopping for essentials, work, caregiving and exercise – meaning many ‘non-essential’ business trips will be discouraged, too.
It comes as Premier Daniel Andrews moved Melbourne into a stricter ‘stage four’ lockdown on Sunday which limited exercise to one hour per day and also included an unprecedented nightly curfew from 8pm until 5am.
The new rules, punishable with a $200 fine if not adhered to, are set to last for an initial period of six weeks.
“We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever,” said Premier Andrews.
“It is not an easy decision to make but it is necessary and that’s why I’ve made it and that’s why police will be out in force and you will be stopped and you will be asked and need to demonstrate that you are lawfully out and you are not breaching that curfew.”
The further restrictions on flying come after Melbourne Airport halted inbound international flights on 1 July in order to ease pressure on hotel quarantine. Already, Qantas and Virgin have significantly reduced services since restrictions were enforced last month.
Australian Aviation previously reported how Melbourne Airport’s domestic passenger numbers were down 98 per cent year-on-year in June – before the second city lockdown was enforced.
The business added that travel and border restrictions imposed nationwide in March mean overall numbers for the previous financial year were at the same level as a decade ago.
The airport’s chief of aviation, Shane O’Hare, urged the government to restart Victoria’s economy “as soon as it is safe”.
The stage three rules in regional Victoria also mean Avalon Airport, previously just outside the lockdown, is now subject to them, however, commercial flights never restarted.