Port Phillip Council's 50 playgrounds reopened today, with some libraries to follow soon under the Victorian Government’s staged COVID-19 restriction easings.
Tape and temporary closure signage removal began yesterday and will be completed today to ready Council's playgrounds, seven outdoor fitness stations and two skate parks for children and fitness fans.
Mayor Bernadene Voss warned, however, that social distancing and good hygiene remained as important as ever.
"While we are delighted these popular public spaces are again being enjoyed, it's vital that we look after each other as a community," Cr Voss said.
"This is not business as usual. The pandemic is likely to be with us for some time so it's imperative we don't become complacent."
Cr Voss said local laws officers will continue to monitor social distancing during their patrols.
Most Port Phillip Library branches will reopen on Monday 1 June. As only 20 book-lovers can be admitted at a time, this will be complemented by the new Request and Collect service where patrons can pre-reserve or borrow items, and pick them up outside the branch to avoid queuing.
Market lovers can enjoy the reopening of the Esplanade Market in St Kilda on 7 June.
And in good news for South Melbourne Market shoppers, all non-food market stalls can offer their wares from Wednesday 3 June. The Market will still monitor the number of shoppers in the Deli Aisle (with entry only through York Street) and the Food Hall, and patrons are expected to observe the 1.5 metre physical distancing requirement while shopping. The Market's Order and Collect service is still running (order by midday Wednesday and pick up Thursday afternoon) and many stalls also have delivery options.
Council is working with sporting associations and clubs to support people getting back into community sport healthily and safely.
The gallery in the St Kilda Town Hall will remain closed until the Town Hall reopens to the public. Council’s ASSIST service for customers continues to be provided online and via phone.
Cr Voss urged community members to check Council's website and social media channels for further updates.
"We are working out the final details about library access and expect to announce how this will work later this week," she said. A community sport update will also be provided soon.
"Safety is paramount so we want to make sure we have the best possible reopening of the services and places we love and make our City so special."
Cr Voss said Council will continue to look at ways of assisting those most in need, including the many traders doing it tough.
An online business forum to be hosted by Council on 2 June will give the local business community the chance to hear government representatives and industry experts. Speakers will discuss opportunities and government assistance on offer and there will be an interactive session on possible options for Council's draft Budget 2020/21. Visit Love My Place to register for the business forum.
Council unveiled a $2.95 million emergency rescue package in March which includes a range of measures including rent relief for Council commercial and community tenants and licencees.
Grants, art acquisition and funding for virtual exhibitions are all part of the $180,000 pool of funds available to local artists, cultural organisations and creative businesses under the recently announced Arts Rescue grants.
Port Phillip beaches were closed on 27 March (apart from quick dips and walking or running) along with skate parks and exercise stations after large numbers of people flouted social distancing rules. Playgrounds were closed soon after. While beaches recently reopened, social distancing rules apply.