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Final Step, a cause for celebration – Sunday 22 November

The Premier’s latest easing of restrictions to take us to the FINAL STEP has been a joyous day and a true cause for celebration. The pain and heartache of the last many months was jettisoned today, replaced by a sense of hope and optimism that we are finally taking confident steps to recovery.

Over the past many weeks as restrictions have started to ease and the ‘ring of steel’ finally came down, VTIC’s advocacy efforts have been in overdrive, campaigning hard for the many areas of our industry who had been left behind as rules were relaxed allowing some parts of our sector to reanimate – while others were feeling left out in the cold.

We’ve been meeting weekly with Minister’s offices, government departments and engaging with key stakeholders to understand what was needed. We’ve also collaborated with a broad spectrum of other industry associations to ensure the messages we were all delivering were consistent and effective.

This has been an incredibly challenging period, filled with much emotion and strain; so, to hear the announcements today was an enormous relief for all of us. It means that all the endless meetings, engagements and negotiations have meant something, and we are now able to move forward toward whatever a COVID Normal world might look like for us.

You can read the Premier’s full statement here, with the summary of the LAST STEP changes outlined here.

I do want to draw your attention to some significant changes in areas where VTIC has advocated tirelessly for change over the past many weeks.

From 11:59pm on 22 November:
Events
Our events sector has been one of the most challenged through this crisis, with the sector completely shut down since mid-March. Our events industry was among the first to be affected at the start of the global lockdown and always knew they would be the last to emerge from the pain.

As various parts of the industry have found ways to reanimate, events have largely been forbidden from operating. This has been a sector that VTIC has campaigned for rigorously across government and has led many sector roundtables to position the key pain points and potential solutions for the sector.

Today we’ve seen that:

  • Large multi-purpose sporting facilities like the MCG and meeting venues like MCEC can operate at 25% capacity based on the one person per four square metre density rule.
  • Public events have been divided into three tiers with Tier 1 and Tier 2 requiring an application and approval process based on the Public Events Framework.
  • This framework is expected to be published shortly and will provide the process and criteria for public events to be assessed and approved.
    • Tier 1 is for events over 5000 attendees and considered highly complex
    • Tier 2 is for events between 500 – 5000 attendees and considered moderately complex
    • Tier 3 is for events under 500, with the only requirement being that you must submit a COVIDSafe Plan to the Department for approval ahead of the event.

Tour and Transport 
This has been another key sector within our industry that has struggled deeply under the restrictions to date. Even though tour and transport has technically been able to operate, the severity of the restrictions made it impossible for most to provide their tours or largely unviable. That thankfully changes as of 11.59pm on 22 November.

  • The big win has been that the 30-minute transport restriction in enclosed vehicles has been removed.
  • Indoor tours and indoor vehicles have a 20-patron cap.
  • Outdoor tours and open-air vehicles can now take up to 50 patrons.

Amusement Parks
Just in time for the wonderful weather, our amusement parks can now open. This has been another battlefront to get our amusements parks across metro and regional areas open and operating.

  • They will be subject to a limit of up to 25 per cent of the venue capacity and subject to the density quotient of one person per four square metres.
  • Venues with a capacity of greater than 500 patrons are required to publish a COVIDSafe Plan.
  • Group limits of 50 patrons will apply.
  • For indoor amusement venues, a patron cap of 150 patrons will apply subject to the density quotient of one person per four square metres and a group limit of 20.

Hospitality  
There were significant wins in the hospitality restrictions announced today, again just in time for this important part of our industry to be ready for Christmas.

  • Indoors:
    • Venues less than 200 square metres of floorspace are subject to density quotient of one per two square metres up to a total of 50 patrons with no group limit.
    • QR codes must be used for venues using the small indoor venue density quotient.
    • Venues with 200 square metres of floorspace or larger are subject to a density quotient of one per four square metres with up to 150 patrons and no group limit.
  • Outdoors:
    • Up to 300 patrons per venue outdoors, subject to density quotient of one per two square metres.
  • Total venue capacity cannot exceed 300 patrons, however, including both indoor and outdoor spaces.

Entertainment and leisure venues
This shift will mean that our beloved cultural institutions across the city and state can now reopen, bringing life back to these treasured facilities.

  • Cinemas and smaller galleries can operate with 150 patrons per indoor space on the one person per four square metres rule.
  • For larger venues, like our NGV and Melbourne Museum, they can operate at 25% capacity.
  • For outdoor entertainment venues –
    • Seated venues can operate at up to 50% of seated capacity or up to a maximum of 500 people with no requirement to apply density quotient.
    • Non-seated venues, e.g. zoos and outdoor museums, are subject to the one person per four square metres density quotient.
    • Venues with a capacity of greater than 500 patrons must publish a COVIDSafe plan.
    • Group limit of 50 patrons applies in line with outdoor gatherings.

Other key areas of note –

  • Mask wearing will no longer be required outside so long as you are able to maintain a safe distance from others.
    • Your mask must be carried with you at all times in the event of being caught in a crowded area where distancing is not possible.
    • Mask wearing is still mandatory in all indoor spaces.
  • Accommodation can now be shared by up to 15 members of different households (same as private gathering rules).
  • Our indoor pools can open to 150 patrons and outdoor pools can now accommodate 300 patrons, subject to density quotients and no group size limits.
  •  Saunas, steam rooms and non-chlorinated spas can now open.

The Premier has indicated the next threshold for further easing of restrictions will be in a fortnight on Sunday 6 December. If all things remain at the current zero or low levels, we can expect to see these capacity limits continue to increase.

As our border reopens with NSW from tomorrow, travel between Victoria and Tasmania resuming from 27 November and international flights touching down again in Victoria from 7 December, the current level of eased restrictions will mean we can start to shape our new COVIDNormal world for tourism.

2020 has been a year we all want to forget, but it has also been a year that’s brought us much closer together, despite the need to be apart. We have fought hard, we have persevered, and we have managed to reach this point against all odds.

I’m looking forward to watching all of you reactivate, resume your businesses, but most of all, get back to what I know is your passion – welcoming guests back into your world!

 

Kind regards,

Felicia Mariani
Chief Executive Officer

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