A number of restrictions will ease in Melbourne from Wednesday, as the state records two consecutive days of zero COVID-19 cases.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed from 11:59pm on Tuesday 27 October 2020, restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars across metropolitan Melbourne will reopen.
A maximum of 20 people seated will be permitted indoors, with 10 people per space. For outdoor spaces, a maximum of 50 people with one person per two square metres will be allowed.
While there is no word yet on when and how corporate events will resume, the Premier confirmed weddings, religious gathering and general outdoor gatherings will be permitted for up to 10 people.
Andrews says these are “big steps” towards reopening the state, however people must stay vigilant.
“We have all given a lot, I’m so proud and impressed and humbled by the contribution that so many Victorian families have made, so many Victorian businesses have made,” he said.
“We are all in this together and just as we have stayed the course, and yes we have stayed apart, but remained fundamentally connected as a strong and united state, we have to be vigilant in the weeks and months to come. Until a vaccine comes, there is no normal, there is only COVID-19 normal.”
Other changes coming into effect from 11:59pm, 27 October include the reopening of retail, resumption of outdoor community sport and the removal of the four reasons to leave home.
New changes not enough: peak bodies
The Australian Hotels Association has welcomed the news, but warned the plan to allow up to 20 people inside a hospitality venue is not viable for many businesses.
AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson estimated 75 per cent of Victoria’s pubs will remain closed due to this “extreme limit on venue capacity”.
“A reasonable first step would have been to allow pubs to recommence with one patron per four square metres indoors and one patron per two square metres outdoors,” he said.
“These are the provisions in NSW and Queensland, enabling venues to maintain safe social distancing whilst getting employers and employees back on their feet.”
Last week, Meetings & Events Australia chair Kate Smith urged the Victorian Government to design and implement an achievable plan to re-instating events within Victoria.
She said despite considerable consultation with government over the past six months, Victoria’s business events industry is still without dedicated funding or support.
“Business events are the highest yielding sector in Victoria’s visitor economy yet here we are in October without a confirmed road map that supports indoor business events commencing as a step towards the state’s recovery,” she said.
More changes from 8 November
The Premier also confirmed if case numbers continue “driving down”, the 25km travel limit will be removed and Melbourne will align with regional Victoria’s current restrictions from 8 November.
That means the capacity of pubs and restaurants would increase to 40 inside and 70 outside.