Premier Dan Andrews has announced that Victorian pubs will finally be allowed to reopen from 11.59pm tomorrow.
Melbourne will move out of lockdown and into the “Third Step”, moving from “stay home” to “stay safe”, with no more restrictions on reasons to leave home.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants are now racing to prepare for reopening, struggling to get stock delivered and venues cleaned and ready to go in a tight timeframe.
Andrews was still speaking at his press conference when the phones started ringing at the Grand Hotel in Warrandyte, in Melbourne’s outer north-east.
“I’ve taken four phone calls [for bookings] while I was watching it,” pub manager Peter Appleby (above) told ABC News.
“The next 30 hours is going to be just crazy.”
Pubs will be allowed have up to 50 customers outdoors and 20 indoors. Density limits, record keeping and COVIDSafe Plans will apply.
“As we take these steady steps towards reopening, the message remains the same: please, stay safe,” Andrews said. “And if you have symptoms, you must get tested.”
David Canny, Victorian president of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), said the plan is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t meet the “viability test”.
“The government needs to have greater trust in us and our patrons in adhering to COVID-safe operating plans,” he said in a statement.
He said an AHA model of one patron per four square metres would be a better start for Victorian pubs.
“We think up to 70% of pubs won’t open at this first stage,” Canny told 3AW.
“We’re going to try and stay positive,” he added. “We’re happier than we were yesterday, that’s for sure.”
Under the eased restrictions, the 25-kilometre travel limit will remain in place.
“I know it’s frustrating, but this is about making sure that even as we ease restrictions, we’re limiting the virus’s ability to travel,” Andrews added.
“It’s why the border between regional Victoria and Melbourne will also remain in place – for just a bit longer.”
From November 8, if case numbers stay down, the 25km limit will come off and Melbourne will be able to meet regional Victoria at the same level.
That means the same eased restrictions that apply to regional Victoria will also apply to Melbourne. The capacity of pubs and restaurants will increase, with up to 40 inside and 70 outside.