Backflip after love ban confusion
Lovers were rejoicing on Wednesday night after the state government backflipped on a rule keeping couples living apart from seeing each other during Victoria's strict 'Stay at Home' period.
Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday declared couples who did not live together should not be socialising - meaning no cuddles at home and no sleepovers while the country rides out the coronavirus crisis.
The move - dubbed a "bonk ban" by outraged couples - drew widespread criticism throughout the day.
Under directions which came into force on Monday, Victorians are banned from leaving home for any non essential reason.
Anyone caught flouting the rules faces a maximum fine of $20,000 and Mr Andrews insisted visiting partners did not pass the test.
"That's not work, that's not care giving, that's not medical care, that's not shopping for the things you need when you need them, it does not comply with the rules, so people should not do that," he said.
"If you don't need to do it, don't do it … stay at home, preserve the health system, and save lives. It is working.
"It is a price worth paying, because it is going to save lives. We've all got to play our part."
Earlier, Police Lisa Neville, declared you "cannot visit your partner for social reasons".
But in an about-face shortly before 5pm, Victorian Chief Health Officer Prof Brett Sutton said there would be an exemption for couples living apart.
"Regarding 'Stay at Home' rules: We have no desire to penalise individuals who are staying with or meeting their partners if they don't usually reside together," he said.
"We'll be making an exemption."
Minister Neville said the ban was being amended in a "common sense way".
"Victoria Police also pleased - hard to enforce," she tweeted. Melburnians Katrina Sullivan, 22, and Liam Cowan, 20, had all but resigned themselves to moving their relationship online before the reversal last night. Arts and law university student Ms Sullivan said the draconian ruling would have caused her extra distress during an already difficult time.
"I understand the need to protect everyone but seeing your partner is important and good for mental health," she said.
"It would be like he was on holidays overseas but he would only be 30 minutes away." Before the backflip, Mr Andrews said he realised he was asking a lot of the public, but was grateful for the way in which the majority of Victorians had responded.
"Ultimately, visiting friends or doing the things you might like to do, is that worth a life? Almost certainly the answer to that is no," he said.
Asked about the same issue yesterday, NSW Police Commissioner Mike Fuller said he saw no problem with people visiting their partners, providing they weren't in quarantine.
"That's under 'care'," Mr Fuller said.
"Mental health is under care. Absolutely, under care. I think we have to look after each other, but don't take the whole family with you. Don't take your grandparents."
The Victorian rules in no way prevent people leaving home to meet any obligations relating to shared parenting arrangements, whether or not those arrangements are under a court order.
In South Australia couples have been left to make their own minds up but the advice is "for the couple to determine how essential that travel is".
Originally published as Backflip after love ban confusion