Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has provided a long-awaited ease in Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions. On November 8, the 25-kilometre travel limit and the metropolitan Melbourne-regional border will be lifted.

Entering into the “third step” of the Victoria’s reopening roadmap allows hospitality businesses to open for outdoor seating services, while retailers forced to close under stage four will be allowed to re-open, including hairdressers, although other beauty and personal care businesses will remain closed.

Gyms, fitness centres and studios will be allowed to open under this third step, subject to “heavy restrictions”.

Workers can begin returning to their offices as more industries move from “heavily restricted” to “restricted”. The rolling back of workforce restrictions require businesses to constrain their staff capacities.

It will not be until at least November 23, once Victoria records no new coronavirus cases for 14 days, that hospitality businesses in metropolitan Melbourne will be allowed to host diners indoors and all other retail businesses will be allowed to reopen.

Victoria will move to “COVID Normal” restrictions once the state has no active cases, there are no “outbreaks of concern” in other states, and no new cases are recorded for 28 days. This step will allow all businesses to open with COVID Safe plans.

When announcing the easing in restrictions, Daniel Andrews stated that it struck a balance between public health needs and economic concerns, and that the government would work with industry bodies, particularly the hospitality industry, to address concerns in the coming weeks.

This could include further financial support, or exemptions for those restaurants and cafes that cannot make outdoor dining work under the “third step”, with the possibility that Melbourne city car parks may be able to be repurposed for businesses.’

How to prepare your business to re-open

Whether your business is currently ‘Closed’, ‘Heavily Restricted’ or ‘Open with a COVID Safe Plan’, every business needs to be as prepared as possible for the future and have all foreseeable measures in place to ensure a safe environment for staff and visitors.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has prepared the Business Restart checklist and business restart guide with resources to assist your businesses prepare for reopening, including; management of critical action, site preparation, crisis communication, change management, employee restart processes, action on suspected cases of COVID-19. Download a copy of the guide and checklist here.

What each restriction level means, and how your business needs to adapt

Closed:

No people on site except for emergency maintenance and repairs

Heavily restricted:

1. Ensure physical distancing:

  • Staff can only attend work if permitted. Staff in permitted work premises must work from home if they can
  • Apply density quotient
  • Reduce staff levels
  • Limit number of patrons
  • No carpooling to work.

2. Wear a face mask:

  • Ensure the proper use of face masks in the workplace
  • For some sectors, additional PPE requirements
  • Ensure adequate PPE training and supply.

3. Practise good hygiene:

  • Auditing of cleaning schedules.

4. Keep records and act quickly if staff become unwell:

  • Ask staff to declare in writing or electronically before each shift that they are free of symptoms, have not been in contact with a confirmed case and have not been directed to isolate.

5. Create workforce bubbles:

  • Ensure that staff members are not working across other work sites (exceptions apply).

Restricted:

1. Ensure physical distancing:

  • Staff should work from home wherever possible
  • Apply density quotient
  • Some sectors allowed to lessen the reduction in staff levels
  • Some sectors allowed to lessen the reduction in patrons
  • No carpooling to work.

2. Practise good hygiene:

  • Auditing of cleaning schedules.

3. Keep records and act quickly is staff members become unwell:

  • Ask staff to declare verbally before each shift that they are free of symptoms.

4. Create workforce bubbles:

  • Limit number of staff members working across other work sites.

Open with COVIDSafe Plan:

  1. Staff should work from home wherever possible (to be relaxed over time)
  2. Apply density quotient for some settings (could be reduced over time)
  3. Ensure staff follow current public health directions when carpooling.

Every Industry will be subject to different rules under each level, a full break down of industry restrictions and compliance rules are available online. For an outline of regional Victoria’s roadmap click here. To view Melbourne metropolitan click here.

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