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Victorian businesses to reopen: Who can resume operating and when?

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
26 October 2020 3 minute readShare
Dan Andrews

Small businesses across Victoria are rejoicing today after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the most significant reopening of its economy since the second lockdown began in July.

According to step 3 of the Victorian roadmap for reopening, hospitality businesses were set to open for predominantly outdoor seated service only, while all retail can reopen, as well as hairdressing and beauty services, provided a face mask can be worn for the duration of service.

This step is triggered when the daily average number of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days is fewer than five state-wide as well as fewer than five cases with an unknown source in the last 14 days.

As of 26 October, the 14-day average of COVID-19 cases stands at 3.6. However, cases with an unknown source stands at seven, meaning the conditions for step 3 haven’t been met under that criteria.

But in a press conference today, Mr Andrews said Melbourne would be moving out of lockdown into step 3 of the reopening roadmap.

“These are big steps. 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,” Mr Andrews said.
“If this is to mean something, we have to take our COVID-19 responsibilities to stay safe, and stay open; to stay safe and stay connected, we have to take those responsibilities seriously.”

What are the new rules for Victorian businesses?

From 11:59pm on Tuesday, 27 October

The message has shifted from “stay home” to “stay safe”, with no more restrictions on the reasons to leave home.

Workplaces no longer need to be on the permitted work list to open and the ability to work will change to “if you can work from home you must work from home”.

Cafés, restaurants and pubs can reopen. Outdoor spaces have a limit of up to 50, while indoors have a limit of up to 20. The one per 2 square metre rule applies. Record keeping and COVID-safe plans also apply.

Remaining retail businesses can open, while beauty and personal care services can also resume.

Personal training, fitness and dance classes can also be held outdoors with up to 10 people, and the number of people at outdoor pools can increase to 50, subject to spacing restrictions.

Outdoor entertainment venues can begin hosting visitors.

Weddings will increase to 10 people and funerals up to 20.

Businesses needing time to get ready for reopening will be able to attend onsite immediately.

The 25-kilometre limit remains in place. The border between regional Victoria and Melbourne will also remain in place.

Work permits will still be required for workers travelling between Melbourne and regional Victoria.

From Sunday, 8 November

On condition of case numbers remaining low, the 25-kilometre limit will be removed as well as the border between Melbourne and regional Victoria.

The capacity of pubs and restaurants will increase up to 40 people inside and 70 outside.

Gyms and indoor fitness can reopen subject to strict safety precautions.

Accommodation businesses will also reopen.

Businesses previously concerned by further delays

Before today’s announcement, Mr Andrews delayed reopening on Sunday due to state health authorities awaiting results from more than 1,000 tests connected to an outbreak in Melbourne’s north.

The delay led business lobby groups to further pressure on Mr Andrews on the government’s approach to reopening.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said a pattern of delays, maybes and apologies doesn’t excuse Victoria’s failure to manage local outbreaks, and that it is taking too long and too much is being lost.

“Workers, small-business owners, students and families in Victoria look over the border to NSW and cannot understand why they are being robbed of hope and the ability to get on with their lives in the same way,” Ms Westacott said.

“We now need to learn to live alongside this virus because every day of delay and ongoing restrictions only deepens the devastating social and economic harm Victorians are experiencing.’’

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said every day counts in managing customer expectations and spreading demand and to keep struggling retailers afloat.

“The extended lockdowns are destroying thousands of retail jobs — and while retailers are doing everything they can to stay optimistic and keep their teams employed, many can’t hold on much longer. Every day of delay is costing us more jobs — most of which are held by women and young people,” he said.

“The retail sector employs one in 10 Australians. A quarter of the country’s retail sales come from Victoria, and as the logistics capital of the country, most retail warehousing and distribution is based in Victoria. 

“Melbourne SMB retailers are on the edge of collapse, living without an income for many months.”

Further, Mr Zahra called for retail staff to be allowed immediate access to their “dark” stores to begin COVID safety and Christmas preparations while the state waits on the latest test results.

“We need to stick to a firm reopening date to give the retail sector time to prepare their staff and their customers,” he said.

“Not only are businesses needing to prepare for any COVID-related measures, they also need to be getting ready for Christmas, which includes potentially hiring extra workers and ordering and merchandising new inventory.”

Victorian businesses to reopen: Who can resume operating and when?
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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