Victorian hospitality businesses including bars and clubs will no longer face the one-person-per-two-square-metre density limits from 6pm Friday 18 February.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced this morning that density limits on all hospitality venues would end, highlighting a raft of changes that will be phased in over the coming week.
Indoor dancefloors will also be allowed to reopen, in a massive boost for the state’s struggling live music sector, which has been pushed to the brink by some of the harshest restrictions in the world.
Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here.
Under the orders, QR code check-in requirements will no longer be in place at retail venues, schools (including childcare and early childhood) and for employees at many workplaces. QR code check-in and vaccination check requirements will remain in all ‘vaccinated economy’ settings such as hospitality and entertainment venues. Incoming unvaccinated international travellers will now only have to undergo a period of seven days in hotel quarantine.
With the pressure on the health system easing and third dose vaccination coverage climbing, the government will also consider if it is appropriate to remove the recommendation that Victorians work from home, with an announcement on those recommendations set for next week.
On 18 February, the state government will also review mask mandates, claiming in their press conference that they still needed “a few more days” to assess the impact of new changes before lessening restrictions further.
Victoria recorded 8,501 new infections over the last reporting period, with just over 400 COVID-cases currently hospitalised. Around 53% of adult Victorians have now had a third vaccine dose.
There were fears throughout the hospitality industry that the Victorian government’s pandemic order, which stipulated the previous level of restrictions, could have lasted until April 12 before a mandatory review. However, the state government has faced significant public and industry backlash over what many deemed an inconsistent approach towards regulating smaller live music venues, and large sports and other outdoor venues, many of which are government-owned.
The government have justified their timeline, stating today that when Victoria’s density quotient restrictions were first announced on 6 January, the third dose vaccination rate for Victorians aged 16 and over was only 12.7 per cent, compared to 52.2 per cent today. Similarly, when the dancefloor closure was announced on 10 January, 818 Victorians were in hospital with COVID-19, compared to 401 today.
“We always said these measures wouldn’t be in place for a minute longer than they are needed, and with hospitalisation numbers decreasing and less pressure on our health system, now is a sensible time to make changes,” Andrews said.
“We’re grateful to everyone who has been doing the right thing, helping to reduce the impact of this virus on the community, our healthcare system and our economy.”
For the latest confirmed information, head to the government’s COVID website here.