Update: Residence Checking Requirements in Regional

The Victorian Government has published Restricted Activity Directions (Regional Victoria) (No 7) in relation to the easing of restrictions announced yesterday for Regional Victoria. A copy of those directions is attached.

As flagged yesterday, we have reviewed the residence checking requirement for Regional Victorian businesses and provide the following summary of same:

Who must conduct residence checks?

The residence checking requirement applies to the following businesses in Regional Victoria:

  • an accommodation facility to the extent it relates to tourism or a business that manages bookings for that accommodation facility;
  • a food and drink facility to the extent it relates to providing seated service;
  • a restricted retail facility; 
  • an entertainment and function facility;
  • a physical recreational facility that is a staffed facility*;
  • an alpine operator;
  • a licensed tourism operator;
  • an estate agent to the extent their activities relate to any activities other than a final inspection of a property.

*Staffed facility is not defined in the directions, however we consider that the intention of this provision is that unstaffed facilities (i.e. 24-hour access facilities) will not breach residence checks while they are unstaffed if they are inadvertently used by residents of Metropolitan Melbourne.

Residence checking requirements do not apply where the person accessing services states that they are permitted to travel or stay in Regional Victoria for reasons set out in the Stay at Home Directions (Metropolitan Melbourne) or where services are accessed for emergency purposes or as required or authorised by law.

Individuals who ordinarily reside in Metropolitan Melbourne but visit Regional Victoria for an approved reason may use food and drink facilities for the purposes of take-away as well as accommodation facilities for their approved purpose as per the rules applying in Metropolitan Melbourne, but cannot dine in at a food and drink facility or use any facilities that are currently closed in Metropolitan Melbourne.  The residence check does not apply to the extent that a patron is engaging in activity that would be permitted under the Metropolitan Melbourne restrictions – i.e. takeaway, click and collect, etc.

What is required for a residence check?

The Directions require that affected businesses must ‘use all reasonable endeavours’ to determine the ordinary place of residence of individuals accessing their services and facilities to ensure that those people are not residents of Metropolitan Melbourne. The residence check must be conducted ‘as soon as practicable’ after taking a booking or a patron accessing the facility.

This requirement will be satisfied where a person has:

  • asked the member of the public for the address of their ordinary place of residence; and
  • required the member of the public, and the group that person is travelling with, to:
    • produce photo identification that evidences that their ordinary place of residence is not in Metropolitan Melbourne; or
    • make a declaration that their ordinary place of residence is not in Metropolitan Melbourne; or
    • make a declaration that they are permitted to travel to or stay in Regional Victoria for reasons set out in the Stay at Home Activity Directions (Metropolitan Melbourne).  

The attached template declaration has been provided by the Victorian Government.

What should I do where residence checks are not met?

The Directions contain the following advisory note where a residence check is not met:

Note 1: an operator should refuse service, or not accept bookings, if the operator of the facility is not satisfied the person resides in Regional Victoria, or is not reasonably satisfied that the person has an authorised reason for travelling or staying in Regional Victoria, such as travel for authorised work.

Business that take telephone and internet bookings should ensure that any patrons are put on notice that they will have to provide appropriate evidence of their residence upon entry to the premises.

Commercial Rent Relief

We note that our office is continuing to monitor the issue of Commercial Tenancy Rent Relief regulations, which are expected to be introduced any day following the passage of the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme Act 2021 late last week.

A further update will be published as soon as the regulations are issued.

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.