Update: Victorian Roadmap for easing restrictions

The Premier has today announced the details of the stages for easing restrictions across Victoria. Clearly, the speed of the reopening is slower than hospitality and entertainment industry were hoping for, and indoor capacity restrictions will remain even during the later stages.  That said, the resounding message from the State Government is that this easing of restrictions will be effectively permanent. Once a step is taken, whilst there may be ‘pauses’ on taking the next steps if the health system requires it, there will be no backward steps in future.

We attach a copy of the published Roadmaps for both metropolitan and regional Victoria. The Roadmaps include details, indicative dates, and the vaccine trigger points for easing restrictions in metropolitan and regional Victoria. The State Government has also published in full the Burnet Institute modelling underpinning the rationale for the easing of restrictions, accessible via the Premier’s Media Centre website.

Clearly there is a lot of material and as such we will only provide a very high level summary of the key changes at this stage. The Premier was also very clear that no public health orders have been drafted as yet and that precise rules are still subject to industry engagement and further consideration.

For simplicity, it is best to address the changes based on the trigger points for each change:

  1. ‘Phase A’ – 70% of 16+ population with a single dose of vaccine (estimated 26 September 2021)
  2. ‘Phase B’ – 70% of 16+ population fully vaccinated (estimated 26 October 2021)
  3. ‘Phase C’ – 80% of 16+ population fully vaccinated
  4. ‘Phase D’ – 80% of 12+ population fully vaccinated

Phase A (est. 26 September 2021)

Metro

Settings to remain as they are now except for the following:-

  • An increase in the travel limit to 15km.
  • Outdoor facilities such as golf and tennis are open for contactless recreation with the same restrictions as all outdoor activities for vaccinated and unvaccinated persons
  • Fully vaccinated: Outdoor personal training up to 5 cap

Regional

  • No stay at home restrictions or travel limit, no private gatherings, limited public gatherings.
  • Masks required indoor/outdoors
  • 4sqm density quotient and 25% office capacities.
  • Schools open for early learning and some students, rest in remote learning.
  • Religious gatherings and funerals for 20 attendees, weddings with 10 attendees (4sqm density quotient).
  • Outdoor recreation and sport facilities, playgrounds and skate parks open, and indoor physical recreation, indoor sports facilities and swimming pools open subject to limits on numbers and density quotient.
  • Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues open subject to limitations.
  • Arcades, escape rooms, and bingo closed.
  • Retail betting and electronic gaming remain open subject to existing limits.
  • Licensed premises, café and hospitality open for seated service only with patron limits and density quotient.
  • All retail open subject to density quotients.
  • Hairdressing, beauty and personal care open subject to limits and density quotient.
  • Real estate inspections and auctions open subject to limits.
  • Accommodation facilities open for single households or other limited groups.

There will be some easing to restrictions regarding education and schools from around 5 October 2021 to allow for face to face learning for year 12 s and for younger year levels 2 – 3 days a week.

Phase B (est. 26 October 2021)

Metro

Per Phase A subject to the following changes:

  • No stay at home restrictions, 25km travel limit.
  • 50 attendees for funerals (fully vaccinated), 50 for weddings (fully vaccinated) outdoor only.
  • Outdoor sports and outdoor swimming pools increased to 50 attendees (fully vaccinated), change rooms closed.
  • Community facilities and creative studios open to 50 fully vaccinated attendees (outdoor only)
  • Outdoor entertainment venues and amusement parks open to 50 fully vaccinated attendees.
  • Hairdressing, beauty and personal care open subject to limits and density quotient (patrons fully vaccinated).
  • Licensed premises, café and hospitality open for seated service outdoors only for 50 fully vaccinated patrons.
  • Accommodation facilities open for single households or other limited groups.
  • Real estate inspections and outdoor auctions open subject to limits.
  • Retail if it has the capacity for out door trade subject to density limits.

Regional

Per Phase A subject to the following changes:

  • Public gatherings increase to 20 fully vaccinated people outdoors.
  • Increased capacities for:
    • Religious gatherings, funerals and weddings for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Indoor and outdoor sport facilities and community sport for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Creative and community facilities for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Entertainment facilities and amusement parks for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Licensed premises and electronic gaming (seated service) for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Hairdressing, beauty and personal care for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Real estate inspections and auctions for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Retail open subject to density limits
  • Arcades, escape rooms and bingo centres open for fully vaccinated attendees subject to limits.
  • Karaoke and Nightclub facilities to open for seated service fully vaccinated attendees.

Phase C (est. 5 November 2021)

At Phase C, Metro and Regional areas will return to consistent controls and will allow for unrestricted movement between Metro and Regional areas.

Restrictions will be per Phase B subject to the following changes:

  • No travel limit, private gatherings for up to 10 persons indoors, increase to public gatherings.
  • Masks required indoors only.
  • Return to work available for fully vaccinated staff (i.e offices)
  • Increase to est. 500 patrons outdoors and 150 patrons indoors for:
    • Religious gatherings, funerals and weddings for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Indoor and outdoor sport facilities and community sport for fully vaccinated attendees (higher patron capacities for outdoor seated sporting events).
    • Creative and community facilities for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Entertainment facilities and amusement parks for fully vaccinated attendees (high patron capacities for outdoor seated entertainment events)
    • Licensed premises (seated service) for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Hairdressing, beauty and personal care for fully vaccinated attendees.
    • Real estate inspections and auctions for fully vaccinated attendees.
  • Arcades, escape rooms and bingo centres open for fully vaccinated attendees subject to limits.
  • Karaoke and Nightclub facilities to open for seated service fully vaccinated attendees.
  • Casino, retail betting and electronic gaming to reopen subject to limits for fully vaccinated attendees.
  • All retail to re-open with density limits..
  • Food courts open for takeaway only.
  • Accommodation open in accordance with gathering limits.

Phase D (est. 2 weeks following Phase C)

Operations will align with the National Plan.

Specifically private gatherings to increase to 30 people by Christmas, with further business particulars to be advised in due course.

General Commentary

The dates are indicative and based on the current vaccine rollout in Victoria, and as such there is some scope for the dates to change. The Premier was optimistic that some of these dates may be met earlier than indicated.

For Metro in particular, licensed premises and entertainment, recreation and gaming facilities will remain closed until Phase B, which is still some weeks away, and upon opening it appears that it will be entirely for outdoor seated service. This is more restrictive than last years ‘predominantly’ outdoor service initiatives. These patron capacities are expected to be overall venue limits as well as ‘per space’ and subject to a 4sqm density quotient.

There may also be specific operational restrictions in place for particular uses that have yet to be announced.

Clearly there will be significant changes to permissions based on whether attendees are fully vaccinated or not, and the intention that certain industries will be subject to mandatory vaccination for all employees. It is unclear how this will be implemented, although the Premier did mention it was most likely to be governed by Health Orders. We will continue to monitor how these obligations will be implemented and whether the obligations will be on venue operators/employers and/or attendees and employees to ensure compliance with these obligations.

It is evident that the Roadmaps for all industries are much more conservative than what industry had hoped for; especially for the hospitality and entertainment industry. As with last year, reliance on outdoor spaces will again be an importance component of viable hospitality operations.

There are temporary licensing options open to venues which can allow for temporary licence extensions until around 15 March 2022, which many operators may already have availed themselves of.

Business Support

Further business support has not been announced, however given the announcements have shown there will be a number of weeks until hospitality and entertainment facilities properly re-open there will likely be some further announcements for the coming weeks.

The Premier did refer to the cessation of individual disaster payments in regional areas being a result of a federal decision to cease payment, although he reiterated individuals could reapply without mentioning the limits on any such reapplication. We will continue to monitor this issue

Regional Lockdowns

Also included in today’s announcement was that the LGAs of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Shire of Mitchell would be subject to a 7-day lockdown from 11:59pm tonight.

The rules that will apply are consistent with those currently in Metropolitan Melbourne and Ballarat, but with no curfew for leaving the home.

Further Updates

The roadmap is still subject to further refinement and drafting. As and when more information comes to hand we will continue to provide these updates. If you have any specific queries about any aspect of the reopening plan at this stage please do not hesitate to contact us.

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.