7th September, 2020
Premier Daniel Andrews has unveiled his five-step plan to see Melbourne out of lockdown restrictions and into ‘COVID normal’. Here’s what this plan means for SMEs.
During a highly anticipated press conference on Sunday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews fronted the media with a plan to gradually take Victorians out of stage four lockdown restrictions.
The plan, which the premier described as “safe and steady”, proposes an incremental approach to lifting economic and social restrictions, and aims to send tens of thousands of Victorians back work before the end of September.
According to Andrews, an incremental reopening strategy is the only way for the state to avoid yo-yoing in and out of lockdown.
“I want to get the place open, and I wanted to keep it open,” he said during Sunday’s press conference.
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The roadmap consists of five steps, four of which require significant milestones to be reached before coming into effect.
The Premier announced that the first phase of the roadmap, which is set to begin at 11:59pm on 13 September, would only see changes made to living restrictions, confirming that all business limitations would remain in place for at least another two weeks.
Once the two week period lapses, assuming the daily case rate averages between 30 and 50 cases, metro-Melbourne will move into step two. As part of this step, Andrews announced that a series of industries will start to reopen or increase operations, resulting in the return of about 101,000 workers who have been at home since stage four began in early August.
The sectors that are expected to welcome back workers as part of step two include construction, distribution (including warehousing and post), childcare, manufacturing and garden maintenance.
Based on the case modelling conducted by the government in collaboration with its public health officials and a series or research institutions, step two is expected to begin on or around (but not earlier than) 28 September 2020.
In the event that cases drop to less than five per day over a two-week period and there are less than five cases with unknown sources during that same period, the state will move into the third step of this roadmap. This phase proposes cautiously reopening the majority of other industry sectors, including hospitality, retail and hairdressers – all with heavy restrictions and safety measures in place. The expected date for this reopening is 26 October 2020.
The final step before Victoria can achieve COVID normal will see the remainder of businesses opening up, and fewer limits placed onto the hospitality industry. For this to happen, Victoria will need have no cases recorded for 14 days straight. Modelling suggests that 23 November 2020 is a reasonable date for this to have happened by.
Once the state has been COVID-free over a four week period, life and business is expected to be restored and become restriction-free, but with the expectation for robust record keeping processes to be implemented across most industries.
Further information on the plan for metropolitan Melbourne can be found on the Victorian government website.
With significantly fewer daily cases being reported in regional Victoria, the Premier confirmed that areas outside metro-Melbourne would effectively start their journey to COVID normal at step two of the plan outlined above and will be guided by a different timeline altogether.
Details of the plan for regional Victoria can be found on the Victorian government website.
When asked to comment on the roadmap’s impact on the hospitality industry, Andrews admitted the sector would need major reforms to be ready to open up under step three of the plan.
“I think the [hospitality] industry will look very different,” he told reporters.
Andrews said that restaurants would be given the opportunity to make better use of their curb-side seating arrangements, with parking spots and footpaths to be transformed into outdoor dining spaces to allow for more patrons.
The Premier said he would be consulting industry bodies over the coming weeks to help shape the government’s approach to offering additional support to those businesses in need.
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