Premier Daniel Andrews has given the green light for hospitality venues to reopen to dine-in trade from 11.59pm on Tuesday, October 27.
The announcement comes after 12 challenging weeks of lockdown for Melbourne’s businesses, and despite the incredibly short turnaround time, some operators were hedging their bets that Monday’s announcement might allow them to reopen, and are ready to go.
Christian McCabe of Embla is ready to reopen. Photo: Eddie Jim
“We are ready and even have some bookings,” says Christian McCabe of CBD wine bar Embla, which will open from Wednesday.
“We opened them up on the proviso that they were speculative but had quite a lot of demand. Not that it takes much to fill the 10 seats”.
From midnight Wednesday, restaurants can reopen for a maximum of 20 diners indoors (with a limit of 10 people per room, with one person per four square metres) and 50 diners outdoors.
Antoine Reymond, who co-owns Bistro Gitan, L’Hotel Gitan and Frederic with his siblings, has been preparing for the outdoor restrictions by building a large open deck on the rooftop of his Cremorne restaurant (pictured right). “We’re incredibly excited to have our restaurants open again. We’re ready,” he says.
The premier also announced that outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people can be from any number of households from tomorrow, which will allow friends and family to take advantage of Spring Racing picnic packages, supporting embattled catering companies.
From 11.59pm on Sunday, November 8, the 25 kilometre rule will be lifted, as will the “ring of steel” separating metro Melbourne from regional Victoria. This last factor is vital for businesses in regional Victoria which rely on Melbourne for trade.
Dan Hunter of Brae in Birregurra says they still can’t operate under the 10 person per space rule. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen
Dan Hunter, chef-owner of Brae in Birregurra says until the 10 person per space rule is addressed, there is no relief for businesses with only one room.
“It doesn’t matter how you spin 20 people indoors or 40 people indoors, it doesn’t mean anything unless you have four rooms.
“We’ve got lots of bookings and loads of interest and we can still can’t take them because we still don’t know what the rules are after the 8th of November.”
It is the news many hospitality operators have been waiting for. The European’s Con Christopoulos is going to reopen the rooftop of the European at midnight, but says “the government clearly underestimates the energy and costs required to restart a business.”
Simon Blacher, who owns Hannoi Hannah and opened Firebird during the shutdown, will also reopen his venues this week, and echoes the mixed sentiment. “A little more notice would be nice, however if this year has taught us anything, we have definitely learned to move quick.”