Update: New DHHS Directions released for Victoria

Following yesterday’s significant announcement of the easing of restrictions, the DHHS has published overnight the new public health directions.

All directions are available on the DHHS Website. A copy of the ‘Open Premises Directions’ is attached. Other directions such as the Mandatory Vaccination Directions, Stay Safe Directions and Workplace Directions are also important reading.

By way of a brief summary, we note the following key changes contained in the current directions:

  1. Open premises must ensure that each patron aged over 12 years and 2 months shows acceptable evidence that they are fully vaccinated or an excepted person. Venues were previously required to obtain such evidence only from persons aged 16 and over – so this is one requirement that has changed. This requirement now applies to all non-essential retail premises as well, consistent with yesterday’s announcement.
  2. Operators of an open premises must not permit any person to work at the premises unless the person is fully vaccinated or an excepted person, but a partially vaccinated worker may work at an open premises when no patrons are or may be present at the same time. This means that partially vaccinated workers may do stocktake, cleaning, or other logistics during hours that premises are not open to the public.
  3. There are no longer patron limits or density requirements contained in the directions. This is the case for arcades, escape rooms, food and drink premises, gaming machine premises, nightclubs and other venues. All such venues will now revert to the ‘ordinary’ patron capacities, whether on your liquor licence, planning permit, or occupancy permit (as the case may be).
  4. There is no longer a requirement that gaming machines be spaced 1.5m apart of every second gaming machine be closed.  
  5. Dancefloors are now permitted in all indoor and outdoor spaces.
  6. There are a number of limited exceptions to vaccination requirements where premises are being solely used for certain purposes. These include premises being operated for the purpose of conducting a wedding or funeral if patrons are limited to the lesser of 50 patrons or the density quotient of 4 square metres. To be clear, these limitations do not apply where vaccination requirements are met.
  7. Vaccination and COVID Check-in Marshal requirements do not apply for premises that are only providing take-away. For premises providing both take-away and dine-in service, the vaccination and COVID Check-in Marshal requirements do not apply in relation to patrons who attend the premises only to collect take-away goods.
  8. Venues remain required to have a designated COVID Check-In Marshal and to ensure that all patrons check in and show acceptable evidence of vaccination status. Venues must exclude patrons who do not comply with check-in requirements or show acceptable evidence of vaccination status. However:
    1. general retail premises that are less than 2,000 sqm (and restricted retail less than 100 sqm) do not have to have a designated ‘Check-In Marshal’ where a staff member is available to check vaccination status and request ‘check-ins’ at the first point of interaction with a customer entering the store.
    2. Check-in Marshals are also not required for unstaffed sporting facilities.

We note the above constitutes a summary of some of the key changes but is not a comprehensive summary of all obligations of operators. Please contact our office for specific advice or queries regarding any particular operation.

We note the State Government website is in the process of being updated in its entirety to provide updated guidance to the business sector. All dated content on the website has been deleted.

We will continue to monitor announcements for further updates and information.

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.