The day is finally here! Victoria’s’ re-opening is upon us, and we can now begin to venture out of our homes and back to social interactions. It’s been a long few months of lockdown orders, but with all our hard work and reaching the 70 per cent double vaccination target early, the easing of restrictions has been brought forward. Businesses have been doing it so tough, adjusting the way they operate to fit within the restrictions and continue to trade to the best capacity possible. We can now slowly but surely begin to enjoy the little things we may have taken for granted before, like visiting family and friends within each other’s homes, travelling freely within your designated region, schools have begun their staggered return for students, community sports and recreation is back on and of course, hospitality venues can now welcome back their patrons for seated dining.
As of today, within metro Melbourne if all patrons are fully vaccinated, the indoor capacity for seated dining is 20, and the outdoor patron capacity is 50, with a density limit of one person per 4 sqm across both settings.
Food and drink facilities such as cafes and restaurants can open for seated service if all workers and patrons are fully vaccinated. The changes in vaccination status and opening dates threw a spanner in the works for some hospitality businesses this week, meaning if their staff were not yet fully vaccinated, they would not be able to open for seated dining on the proposed date.
The same goes for the checking of vaccination status. If a business is not willing to comply with the rules around vaccination and check-in, they will continue to only be allowed to open for takeaway.
Regional Victoria have been allocated a somewhat higher seated dining capacity, with the indoor patron allowance at 30 with a density limit of one person per 4 sqm, and the outdoor patron capacity at 100 with a density limit of one person per 2 sqm.
Slightly different rules apply around vaccination status and check in compliance from metro Melbourne, with seated dining still being allowed if a business is not willing to comply, although at a reduced capacity of 10 indoors (down from 30) and 30 patrons outdoors (down from 100).
The remaining restrictions around how we live and move within our regions continue to differ just slightly between Metro Melbourne and Regional Victoria, until the 80 per cent vaccination target is reached and the state of Victoria will come into line and any remaining rules are expected to be the same state-wide.
In an update to the current roadmap, the Victorian government announced over the weekend the further changes that will come into effect from Friday 29 October 2021.
These include an increase to indoor seated service capacity at hospitality venues, scrapping the 20 patron rules, and introducing an indoor venue capacity solely based on density limits of 1 person for 4sqm. Outdoor dining will also move to allow for non-seated service for up to 500 fully vaccinated people.
In support of local communities and the businesses that bring those said communities to life, A new $40 million COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Grant was announced this week, helping councils transform outdoor areas so Victorians can get out and support their local businesses safely. With the intention of not only supporting hospitality businesses, but also a broad range of industries that have been impacted by COVID restrictions
The funding will be provided to local councils, through two phases.
Part A with the aim to extend any existing outdoor eating and entertaining facilities, and also support businesses with new facilities to be able to operate outdoors. Think parklets, planter boxes, outdoor furniture, landscaping, marquees, signage, the list goes on.
Part B is to establish semi-permanent and permanent outdoor precincts to support industries and be of lasting benefit to local communities. This funding will allow for outdoor eating and entertainment facilities and other businesses to operate outdoors and is intended to support a broad range of industries.
As a state known for its culture and in particular the food and hospitality scene, Victoria is coming back, and we can’t wait to see it!