Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a tightening of restrictions in response to the spike in COVID-19 case numbers in recent days. 

From Monday, restaurants, cafes and pubs were going to be opened for up to 50 seated patrons per space. This will now remain at 20 until at least July 12.  

The seated service of alcohol without food will still be allowed as planned from 11.59pm on June 21.

Chef and owner of three-hatted Brae restaurant, Dan Hunter, says the delay on lifting restrictions doesn’t affect his plan to reopen on June 25. “Thankfully we were being cautious and wondering if this was going to happen. We didn’t want to push it and even with the expected 50 we have kept bookings to 20 max in the room.”

Brae chef Dan Hunter says the delay on lifting restrictions doesn't effect his plan to reopen on June 25
Brae chef Dan Hunter says the delay on lifting restrictions doesn’t effect his plan to reopen on June 25  Photo: Eddie Jim

Vue de Monde executive chef Hugh Allen was gearing up to reopen the fine-dining restaurant to 50 guests on Thursday. “Everyone was just super excited to get going,” he says.

Instead, the reservations team has spent Saturday afternoon phoning would-be diners to reschedule. Vue de Monde will switch to two nightly sittings of 20 until restrictions ease further.

The main impact will be for businesses that had functions organised, says Caterina Borsato of Caterina’s Cucina e Bar.  “I have already taken bookings for private functions under 50 before July. I had the staff organised, food ordered and wine ordered. That’s disastrous.”

The Lincoln Hotel in Carlton.

The Lincoln Hotel in Carlton. Photo: Eddie Jim

Venues such as the Lincoln Hotel had taken bookings for those precious extra few seats. “I’ll spend tomorrow calling them,” says owner Iain Ling. However, he says allowing 50 patrons wouldn’t have expanded their capacity by many. “I can’t make the pub bigger. We need the rule to drop to one person per four square metres to get any more people in.”

The loosening on restrictions allowing punters to get a drink without a meal is going ahead, however this isn’t good news for venues. Ling says, “I need everyone to eat inside to make it viable. They can drink outside but that would require another staff member to do table service. It’s a lot of swings and roundabouts.

Moon Dog World pre Covid-19.

Moon Dog World pre Covid-19. Photo: Supplied

Chris Hysted from Moon Dog World, a venue with a licence for 725 people, says: “The need to serve food has actually been great for many venues I know of. Driving a bigger spend per head. Not having to serve food could drastically affect takings for many venues (especially early to mid week).”

The new restrictions announced on Saturday afternoon will be in in place until at least July 12, and include the following rules and restrictions: 

From 11.59pm on Sunday, June 21:

  • No increase to the number of patrons in restaurants, cafes and pubs, open to up to 20 seated patrons per space. 
  • Private gatherings reduce up to five visitors, in addition to the normal residents of a household. 
  • Public gatherings (indoor and outdoors) reduce to 10. 
  • Allow seated service of alcohol without food.