Sit-down meals and drinks from June 1

Cafes remain open during coronavirus crisis

Businesses thinking outside the square

VICTORIANS will be able to tuck into a meal, enjoy a latte or even sip a beer inside a café, restaurant or pub under the next stage of lifted restrictions.

The venues will be able to reopen their doors to serve meals to up to 20 customers at a time per enclosed space from June 1.

Premier Daniel Andrews made the muchanticipated announcement on Sunday, adding 20 customers could increase to 50 on June 22, and to 100 by mid-July, if low numbers of positive cases continued around the state and people continued to get tested.

Before each date, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer will review the rate of community transmission, the state’s ability to test, trace and respond to possible outbreaks and make sure there is an adequate safety net in the health system.

Mr Andrews said the hospitality industry was one of the pillars of the Victorian economy, and had been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“… re-opening the venues we all love is a critical piece of the puzzle in saving jobs and restoring our local communities,” he said.

“We need to be really clear though: this is not a done deal.

“These timelines will depend on how we’re tracking.

“And just as we’ve used evidence to inform our decisions the whole way through this – these next steps will be no different.

“If, in the coming weeks, we see a sudden upswing in community exposures from an unknown source – we may have to make the call to delay.”

Venues will have to adhere to a “long and extensive set of rules”, including social distancing, 1.5 metre spacing, cleaning and screening of staff for symptoms.

“This will only work if those who are going out to a café, 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, and take these things seriously,” Mr Andrews said.

“We simply can’t have all the rules come off at once, we simply can’t go to a situation where there are hundreds and hundreds of people crammed into venues, not maintaining that social distancing.”