Victorian cafés to reopen for dining in June

From 1 June, cafés, restaurants, and pubs in Victoria will be able to reopen their doors for dining service for up to 20 customers at a time per enclosed space.

The announcement came from Premier Daniel Andrews on 17 May, following an extensive testing blitz assuring the government of transmission rates.

“After smashing through our goal of 50,000 tests in the last week, the results of this data has given us the confidence we need to plan to slowly start lifting some more restrictions,” Andrews said.

“The continuing low numbers of community transmission and the high rates of testing give us confidence that cafés, restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses can begin planning for a phased re-opening from the beginning of June.”

From 22 June, Andrews said this number could increase to up to 50 patrons. During the second half of July, it could rise up to 100, depending on continued transmission rates.

“The timelines we’re announcing today 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,” Andrews said.

Before each of these dates, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer will review the rates of community transmission in Victoria, ensuring the government’s ability to test, trace, and respond to possible outbreaks, before taking the steps outlined.

“This industry has told us they need time to plan and prepare to protect the safety of their staff and customers. Making these announcements now will be giving them that time.” Andrews said.

“The hospitality industry is one of the pillars of the Victorian economy and has been among the hardest hit by this pandemic. Re-opening the venues we all love is a critical piece of the puzzle in saving jobs and restoring our local communities.”

A number of precautions will be put in place to guide re-opening. 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 be required to take the contact details of every customer to assist in rapid contact tracing. Extra safety requirements include extra cleaning, staff health screening, and temperature checks.

“Further work will need to be done on how we manage shared areas like entrances and bathrooms, and will be done in consultation with the industry and unions and on the advice of our public health team,” Andrews said.

“As we take these important steps, we must also continue to make a number of sacrifices, as the cumulative effect of easing too much too soon could undo all the hard work we have done together.”

For more information, click HERE.

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) has welcomed the Premier’s announcement.

“While last week, our state was behind the easing of restrictions planned in other states and territories, this morning we have moved to one of the most progressive states in this regard,” VTIC Chief Executive Felicia Mariani says.

“VTIC has engaged extensively with government over the past week on these issues and we’re thrilled that the Andrews Government has seen a pathway to respond so positively.

This is wonderful news for our hospitality industry and one that VTIC is thrilled the Premier has reconsidered in light of our testing outcomes.

“This is a terrific first step to the reanimation of Victoria’s tourism industry and VTIC looks forward to working with Government to ensure our industry is well prepared with regard to their obligations and requirements.”

States and territories across Australia have announced different plans to reopen cafés for dining. For more information, click HERE.