When can my business operate as Melbourne’s stage four lockdowns ease?
The Victorian Government has revealed its roadmap for the easing of restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne and the rest of the state.
With a multi-stage rollback of restrictions in the coming months, industries and businesses will begin returning to normal at different times, depending on their level of COVID risk and the number of cases presenting in the community.
Here are the dates and checkpoints for each of the upcoming stages, as well as what it means for your business or commercial property asset class.
The restrictions currently in place across metropolitan Melbourne will continue for at least another two weeks beyond the original September 13 end date.
However, from September 13 some of the lockdown rules will be eased, with the current 8pm curfew extended to 9pm, playgrounds to open, social bubbles to be created and two people or a household will be able to gather outside for two hours, up from the current one hour.
Melbourne will move to the next stage only once the average daily case rate is between 30-50 over the previous 14 days, and no earlier than September 28.
Stage four lockdown: What roadmap to reopening means for Melbourne commercial property
The next stage will not happen before October 26, and will only occur once Victoria reaches an average daily case rate of fewer than five cases statewide over the previous 14 days, and there are fewer than five cases with an unknown source statewide in the last 14 days.
Victoria will move to the next stage on November 23, and only if there have been no new cases for 14 days.
A final stage will be put in place once there are no new cases for 28 days and no major outbreaks in other states and territories. There is no date set for this stage.
Hairdressers and beauty services
Hairdressers will remain closed until the third stage (October 26 at the earliest), however beauty services will not be able to open until the fourth stage (no earlier than November 23).
As with most Victorian businesses, all will be required to enact a COVIDSafe Plan when reopening.
Food, beverage and hospitality
Pubs, bars and restaurants will remain restricted to takeaway only until the third stage, when they will be able to resume outdoor dining for up to 20 people.
At the fourth stage, indoor dining can commence for up to 20 patrons, with venues capped at 50 people in total. There will be no restrictions once the “COVID Normal” phase is reached.
Office workers must remain working from home under the first and second stages of the roadmap, with employees to continue working from home or a single site where reasonably practicable once the state reaches the third stage (October 26 or later).
The same applies for the fourth stage, with workers required to work from home or one site where possible.
Supermarkets and food distribution centres will continue to operate under their current heavy restrictions, which involve reduced opening hours and staff numbers, until the third stage of the reopening roadmap.
During the third and fourth stages the government’s restriction levels indicate they will be able to open further, but with restrictions on the number of patrons in-store. Density quotients will be removed once “COVID Normal” is achieved.
The real estate industry will remain heavily restricted for some time. Only services related to property settlement or commencement/end-of-lease (including removalists) that cannot be done remotely are allowed under the first two stages from September 13 until at least October 26.
Limited activities including outdoor auctions (with a cap on attendees) and private inspections by appointment will be allowed at the third stage, with operations to resume as normal at the fourth stage.
Permitted retailers can continue to trade as normal through all stages of the roadmap, while other retailers will be reintroduced slowly.
Non-permitted retailers will be restricted to ‘click and collect’ services to residents within a 5km radius during the first and second stages, but will be able to open with density quotients and cleaning requirements through the third and fourth stages.
Density requirements for shops will only be removed once Victoria reaches the “COVID Normal” stage.
While childcare has remained open to essential/permitted workers throughout all stages of Victoria’s lockdowns, it will be among the first industries to open further.
Early childhood education centres will be allowed to open with a COVIDSafe plan and no density restrictions at the second stage of reopening, which could be as soon as September 28.
Tourism, events, sport and recreation venues
Considered one of the highest risk categories, tourism, culture, entertainment, events and major sport and recreation venues will be unable to open until the fourth stage (November 23 at the earliest).
Even then, the ability to open will be restricted to seated venues only and with a cap on the number of patrons allowed. Once “COVID Normal” is reached, venues will open fully with no density quotients.
Gaming and casinos
Gaming venues and casinos will stay closed until the fourth stage of the reopening process, meaning the earliest they can open is November 23, and only if there have been no new coronavirus cases for 14 days.
During the fourth stage there will still be heavy restrictions, with seated venues only and patron caps.
Hotels and accommodation
Hotels will be heavily restricted and are only available for permitted purposes during the first and second stages.
Restrictions will be eased slightly at the third stage, before being able to open fully with a COVIDSafe plan during the fourth stage.