Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has outlined a plan to rapidly ease restrictions on cafe and restaurant dining in a major boon for the state’s hospitality sector.
From June 1, cafes, restaurants and pub bistros will be able to serve up to 20 patrons at a time.
Three weeks later, from June 22, the patron limits will increase to 50.
In another big jump, from mid-July, the state would be looking to move to 100 patrons per enclosed space, Premier Andrews said.
However, Premier Andrews warned the current guidelines of social distancing, cleaning and protections put in place for staff needed to remain in place.
“All of those protocols, those rules, are critically important,” Premier Andrews said.
“This will only work if those who are going out to a cafe or going out for a meal at a restaurant or going to the bistro in a pub actually follow those rules, do the right thing, take these things seriously.”
In order to help with contract tracing, every patron will have to give their first name, last name and mobile phone number if they want to enter restaurants and dining areas of pubs, Premier Andrews said.
Premier Andrews said Victoria’s testing blitz, which saw more 92,000 tests conducted in the past week was what was giving him the confidence to be able to open up the hospitality sector again.
“We are doing more testing than any other state,” Andrews says.
“We have a really good handle on how much virus is out there in the Victorian community. That can change though.”
Victoria recorded seven more cases of COVID-19 overnight bringing the state’s total to 1561.
Two of the new cases are related to known ongoing outbreaks, three were in returned travellers in hotel quarantine and three are still being investigated, Premier Andrews said.
There are 11 people in hospital, with seven of those in intensive care.
Premier Andrews said he would not be announcing the easing of any other restrictions today, and when it came to working from home, the state government’s messaging was not likely to change anytime soon.
When the hospitality sector moved to allowing 100 people in one place from mid-July, the government messaging would change from “stay home” to “stay safe”.
But the policy of “if you can work from home, work from home” would still remain the same, Premier Andrews said.
“The advice from the chief health officer [has always been] if we have millions of people going to office environments when they don’t need to be there, pressing lift buttons, sharing kitchens, sharing bathrooms, that presents the biggest risk,” he said.