Update: COVID-19 Temporary Limited Licences Expiring on 15 March 2022

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (formerly the VCGLR) has granted a number of temporary limited licences to venues in response to COVID-19, which allow licensees to temporarily extend their red line area or to temporarily supply liquor with takeaway and delivery orders.

The Commission has previously announced an extension for all COVID-19 temporary limited licences for use of outdoor areas and supply of liquor by takeaway and delivery to 15 March 2022.

In addition, the Commission had separately communicated to licensees that they could apply by 31 January 2022 to permanently extend their red line area to include additional outdoor areas, and the temporary licence would then continue in force until such time as the permanent extension was approved. This is particularly valuable for licensees that also require planning permission to facilitate the permanent variation.

However, following discussions with the Commission’s COVID licensing department late this week it appears that the Commission will only allow for the temporary licences to continue where the extension relates to public outdoor areas (such as kerbside areas, parklets, and other Council land). Any temporary licences for private outdoor land will expire on 15 March 2022 irrespective of whether a permanent variation has been lodged by 31 January 2022. We understand this information has been recently updated on the Commission’s website without a public announcement being made.

The Commission has not provided any basis for why public areas are to be treated differently from private areas, but clearly this creates an issue for licensees who are seeking to permanently increase their licensed area on private land and require planning permission to do so.

It is therefore our advice that:

  1. Licensees using temporary extensions in public outdoor areas are encouraged to apply for permanent variations by 31 January 2022, to obtain the benefit of this licence condition and extend use of the outdoor area beyond 15 March 2022.
  2. Licensees with extensions on private land are encouraged to apply for permanent variations as soon as possible to ensure they are determined as soon as possible, however they should also prepare for the potential that the extended outdoor areas may have to temporarily cease operating while the permanent variation is pending.
  3. Licensees with off premises trading hours can continue to use their extended outdoor areas without a temporary licence for the extent of their off premises hours (provided they can continue to rely on the planning permit exemptions in clause 52.18 of the Scheme). However they cannot have additional bars/serveries located outside of their approved red line areas.

Please contact our office with any questions regarding the above, including for any assistance in preparing and filing requisite applications, or for advice in relying on the use of off premises trading hours.

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.

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