Yesterday, Daniel Andrews declared a State of Disaster in Victoria, with Melbourne moving to stage 4 restrictions and the rest of the state to stage 3, to try and contain the spread of COVID-19. The most significant restrictions include:
- The implementation of a curfew from 8pm to 5am (which came into effect yesterday). During those times, no one is permitted to be out unless an exemption applies.
- From Wednesday, remote learning will be implemented state wide for all children across all year levels, and child care centres will also close. These restrictions will not apply to vulnerable children and children of essential workers – both onsite learning and access to childcare centres will be available to those children.
- Melburnians will not be able travel further than 5 kilometres from their home, and may only leave their home for one hour per day to exercise (provided it is within that 5km radius). Exercise cannot be done in groups – you may only exercise with one other person.
- Only one person per household is permitted to leave the home for shopping for essential items, which must be at a supermarket/store within the 5km radius or otherwise whichever is closest to the home.
How does this impact parenting arrangements?
The purpose of the new restrictions is around limiting the number of people leaving home, and the purposes of leaving home. So how does this impact parenting arrangements, particularly for families where their households may be some distance apart and outside the 5km radius?
There is a specific exemption to the restrictions around travel, which includes where there are shared custody arrangements in place. In yesterday’s press conference, the Premier said: “The arrangements in relation to intimate partners are unchanged…. The arrangements in relation to shared custody are unchanged…Things like five-kilometre rules and reasons to leave your home, they don’t apply in those circumstances.”
In terms of leaving the home for other purposes (including exercise), the Premier emphasised “There will be common sense exemptions for children who are being cared for and can’t be left at home and things of that nature.”
For many single parents, the current restrictions, when combined with full time work and home-schooling, create an avalanche of difficulties.
Importantly, these new restrictions do not apply to those fleeing family violence. If you need to leave your home because you are unsafe, then you may do so at any time and travel as far as you need to in order to be safe. Support is available via services such as 1800RESPECT (more information can be found here).
Should a dispute arise during this time, our office is continuing to work remotely, and the Court is also fully operation remotely. Urgent matters can be listed at Court with priority, in the COVID-19 court list.
For further advice as to how this might impact you please don’t hesitate to contact one of our family law team on (03) 9663 9877.