Update: Changes to Seating Requirements

The new Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria) No. 17 were published overnight and are in effect in Victoria for the next two weeks. A copy of the Directions is attached.

Following a review of the directions, our office is able to provide some more clarity require the provision of seated and standing service, and dancefloors.

1. Licensed premises, hospitality, karaoke and nightclubs must ordinarily ensure patrons remain seated except when ordering food or drink, using toilets, using a permitted dancefloor, or entering and leaving the facility.

2. The Directions state that where such a facility has a ‘COVID Check-In Marshal’ at ‘all entrances to the facility open to members of the public’ then the facility does not have to comply with the ‘seated service’ condition.

This means that facilities can provide standing service for food and drink where this condition is complied with.

3. Clause 17 contains the information regarding the operation of dancefloors. The Directions require a COVID Check-In Marshal at all entrances for a dancefloor to operate, and further requires a maximum of 50 persons at any one time on the dancefloor.

It remains unclear, based on the verbiage of the Directions, whether a single premises may operate multiple dancefloors at any one time. There is no supplementary guidance on dancefloors published by the State Government.

Based on that, it is our view that the Directions are capable of being interpreted in a purposive sense to allow for multiple dancefloors to operate at a single premises where they are sufficiently separated – for instance, for premises where they are contained in discrete spaces, separate rooms, or on separate floors.

This view is based on all available material and is subject to change based on any supplementary expressions of the State Government or the DHHS.

To clarify, a COVID Check-In Marshal’ is defined as ‘an employee, or employees, of a facility who monitors compliance with the records requirement at all entrances to the facility open to members of the public by checking whether patrons have provided their details prior to entry.’

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.