Victorian retail to reopen a week earlier, milestone set for scrapping masks and capacity limits

Victorian retail to reopen a week earlier, milestone set for scrapping masks and capacity limits

With Victoria poised to hit its 80 per cent double dose vaccination milestone almost a week ahead of schedule, the state has unveiled what its COVID-normal will look like with eased restrictions now confirmed for this Friday.

In addition, the state government has outlined that in one month’s time capacity quotients and most restrictions will be removed once the state hits the 90 per cent fully vaccinated mark.

As such, at 6pm on Friday 29 October more restrictions will fall away in line with the state’s eligible population reaching the 80 per cent double dose target.

Most indoor settings, including restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers will open with no caps subject to a one person per 4sqm limit, if all staff and patrons are fully vaccinated. Most outdoor settings will remain at one person per 2sqm limit up to 500, where staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.

These indoor and outdoor settings will also apply to weddings, funerals and religious gatherings if all attendees are fully vaccinated. Caps of 30 people will apply for weddings, funerals and religious gatherings if vaccination status is unknown.

At long last, entertainment venues will reopen. For indoor seated venues including cinemas and theatres, there will a 75 per cent capacity or one person per 4sqm limit up to 1,000 people and for non-seated indoor entertainment venues there will be a one person per 4sqm limit with no patron cap.

Outdoor seated and non-seated entertainment venues including stadiums, zoos and tourism attractions will be open with a one person per 2sqm limit up to 5,000 where staff and patrons are fully vaccinated.

Events – such as music festivals – will be able to host up to 5,000 attendees, subject to any restrictions related to the venue.

Masks will remain mandatory indoors but will no longer be required outdoors.

At the 90 per cent double dose vaccination target, predicted to arrive as early as Wednesday 24 November, gathering caps will be removed for all settings and masks will only be mandatory in some high-risk settings such as hospitals, aged care, public transport and justice and correctional facilities.

There will also be no restrictions for indoor and outdoor events provided they follow COVIDSafe rules including vaccination requirements.

“We made a deal with the Victorian community – we asked them to get vaccinated and promised that when they did, we would open up and begin to live alongside the virus. Today we are delivering on that promise,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“Victorians have met this challenge beyond any of our expectations and these vaccination rates are an incredible achievement. We’re on our way to being one of the most vaccinated – and therefore one of the safest – places in the entire world.”

The changes to the Victorian roadmap have been welcomed by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra who notes they allow for an earlier reopening for ‘non-essential’ retailers for double vaccinated customers and staff, so they can maximise their trading potential during the critical pre-Christmas sales period.

“Every day counts for retail as we enter the most important trading period of the year - particularly for small businesses on the brink of collapse," Zahra said.

"Victorian retailers were losing $55.2 million a day in retail trade as a result of the most recent lockdown. Most discretionary retailers make up to two thirds of their annual profits during the all-important Christmas trading period so we need to ensure they can open and trade at their full potential.

“Victorians are forecast to spend $15.4 billion in the pre-Christmas sales period – a 1.3 per cent increase on last year, and a significant increase on pre-pandemic conditions. There’s a lot of pent-up demand for people to get back out and shop and we’re looking forward to seeing double vaccinated people being rewarded."

Updated at 9.29am AEDT on 25 October 2021.

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