Continuing low numbers of community transmission of COVID-19 in Victoria and the high rates of testing have allowed cafes, restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses to begin planning for a phased re-opening from the beginning of June.
The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday, as informed by the advice of the Chief Health Officer, from June 1 cafes, restaurants and pubs will be able to reopen their doors to serve meals to up to 20 customers at a time per enclosed space.
From June 22 this could increase to up to 50 patrons.
During the second half of July, up to 100.
The timelines are reliant on Victorians continuing to get tested when they show even mild symptoms and, on those tests, continuing to show low numbers of positive cases around the state.
Before each of these dates, the Chief Health Officer will review the rates of community transmission in Victoria, confirm the ability to test, trace and respond to possible outbreaks and make sure they have an adequate safety net in the health system – before they take the steps outlined.
“If, in the coming weeks, we see a sudden upswing in community exposures from an unknown source – we may have to make the call to delay. For information about coronavirus visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call 1800 675 398,” Mr Andrews said.
“Similarly, if an initial opening led to a whole series of uncontrolled crowds or breaches –we’d look at that pretty seriously too.
“A number of precautions will be put in place to guide these changes.”
All venues will need to abide by existing physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres. Tables will also need to be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart.
Venues will also be required to take the contact details of every customer to assist in rapid contact tracing and there’ll be other safety requirements too, including extra cleaning, staff health screening and temperature checks.
Further work will need to be done on how Victorians manage shared areas like entrances and bathrooms and will be done in consultation with the industry and unions and on the advice of the public health team.
“Once in place, these changes will apply to standalone restaurants and cafes, as well as restaurants and bistros within a pub, hotel, bar, registered and licensed club, RSL or community club,” Mr Andrews said.
“Restrictions on other spaces within these kinds of venues – including public bars and gaming areas – will remain in place throughout June, as will restrictions on food courts.
“For now, and for the foreseeable future, this must be our new normal.
“Lives and livelihoods are counting on it.”