Victorian Premier Dan Andrews delivered his anticipated plan to reopen metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria on Sunday, announcing that city-based retail and hospitality businesses will likely remain closed for another seven weeks, at least.
As for regional businesses, they will open slightly faster under the plan that classifies industry restrictions into four steps, from “heavily restricted” to “open with a COVIDSafe plan”.
“If we go too far too soon, the modelling also tells us we’d be on track for a third wave by mid-November,” Premier Andrews said.
“That’d mean we’re back to where we are now, maybe even worse. Days, weeks, months of sacrifice — gone. Confidence for business — destroyed. More families suffering. More lives lost.
“It’s why, even as we release a roadmap for reopening, it’s got to be done in safe, steady and sustainable steps.”
What does Andrews’ plan mean for you Melbourne-based business?
Under Victoria’s roadmap to reopening, there are four industry classifications:
- Closed – no people on site except for emergency maintenance and repairs;
- Heavily restricted – staff levels reduced and density quotas developed, staff will be working from home if they can;
- Restricted – some easing of workforce reductions (industry by industry); and
- Open with a COVIDSafe plan – businesses can open as usual with coronavirus plans.
In metropolitan Melbourne, step 1 will begin on 11.59pm on 13 September 13 and run to 28 September, with most current restrictions set to continue including those placed on work, hospitality and retail.
From 28 September, if the city reaches an average daily case rate of 30–50 cases over the previous 14 days, step 2 will kick in, and while still heavily restricted, it will allow more workplaces to reopen with a predicted 101,000 workers expected to return to work.
Under step 2, construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade will move from being heavily restricted to restricted industries.
However, according to the guidelines for each specific industry, a breakdown of which can be found here, retail and hospitality will remain under the “closed” classification until step 3.
Step 3 won’t begin before 26 October and will only do so if the state records an average of fewer than five new daily cases and five “mystery cases” with unknown community transmission, on average, over a two-week period.
Once these prerequisites are met, most retail will reopen, including hairdressers, but beauty parlours and other personal care providers will remain shut. Cafés, restaurants and bars will also be allowed to reopen for on-site dining subject to pre-approved plans, but this will mostly be outdoors with density limits and groups capped at 10.
As for construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade, they will be allowed to open to their pre-COVID norm, with COVIDSafe plans in place. Meat and seafood processing are, however, expected to remain heavily restricted.
Step 3 is also when accountants are expected to go back to their practices, with the government outlining that “employees must work from home or single site where reasonably practicable”.
Melburnians will also be allowed to start travelling across their state, reviving local tourism.
This brings us to the last step, which will only be achievable from 23 November if Victoria achieves zero new cases for 14 days straight.
At this point, group limits in hospitality will be capped at 20, with 50 seated diners allowed inside.
All retail will be open, including beauty parlours, as will real estate.
Andrews’ plan also foresees an additional step, the COVID normal, which will be declared at a point when Victoria sees no new cases for 28 whole days, including “no outbreak of concern” in other states and territories.
At this point, restriction will be further relaxed, meaning workers will return to workplaces and all hospitality and retail will be open.
How about regional Victoria?
As of 11.59pm on 13 September, regional Victoria will enter step 2, meaning some retail will be allowed to open, with density and other restrictions, including hairdressers. Restaurants and cafés will, however, remain on takeaway and delivery only.
Regional Victoria will move to step 3 when the daily average number of cases is fewer than five and there are fewer than zero cases with an unknown source over a two-week period.
At this point, hospitality will open for up to 10 patrons in outdoor settings, while all other retail businesses, except for those in personal care, other than hairdressers, will also start welcoming customers.
Regional Victoria will move to step 4 on 23 November if there are zero new cases state-wide for 14 days.
At this point, hospitality businesses will be allowed to welcome indoor patrons, and beauty parlours and real estate businesses will also begin operating.
For more guidance on regional Victoria, including industry-specific rules, click here.