Victorians are once again able enjoy a beer at the bar under relaxed coronavirus restrictions that will deliver a major boost to hospitality venues ahead of Christmas.
This week, mask rules have also been eased, while 30 visitors are allowed at home and 100 people can gather outdoors in good news for those organising family and end-of-year celebrations.
As Victoria recorded its 37th consecutive day without a new COVID-19 case, Daniel Andrews announced a major winding back of restrictions as the government’s plan for a “COVIDSafe summer”.
“This is a remarkable achievement,” the Premier said.
“It is something that every Victorian owns, and it is something that every Victorian has built through their sacrifice.”
Patron caps on pubs, restaurants and cafes have been lifted, with the venues instead limited to one person per 2sq m and mandatory electronic record keeping.
Standing service will be also return, allowing Victorians to walk-in and have a beer at the bar for the first time in months.
Dance floors will also make a comeback at weddings and nightclubs but will be capped at 50 people with a one person per 4sq m limit.
But Victoria’s major events remain in limbo with no detail on changes to crowd capacity ahead of the Boxing Day Test or Australian Open.
Thousands of workers are set to return to the office, with 50 per cent of private sector employees able to return to work from January 11.
Public servants will be sent back at a slower rate, with 25 per cent of their capacity permitted on the same day and rising to 50 per cent on February 8.
Victoria’ Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said it was conceivable 100 per cent of workers could return to the office eventually, but density limits were an important insurance policy against further outbreaks.
Mask rules have also been significantly eased and are now only mandatory while on public transport, in rideshare vehicles and some retail areas such as supermarkets and shopping centres.
It comes a week after a group of business leaders across the state urged the state government in the Herald Sun to use common sense and let workers sit at their desks.
They warned staff would be unlikely to return to work and reinvigorate the CBD unless rules were altered.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said the latest changes meant Victoria could now be competitive with other states.
“There’s really no restrictions now that are holding Victoria back,” he said.
“Across the board from hospitality through to the tourism sector, Victorian businesses can now get ready to get going.”
Mr Guerra said the number of businesses that would go under from the economic shock was unclear, with a better picture likely to emerge once JobKeeper support ends in 2021.