Legal Insights

Reopening Victoria - The Open Premises Directions

By Robert Gregory & Sam McKenzie

• 27 October 2021 • 3 min read

In Victoria, the Acting Chief Health Officer has issued new Open Premises Directions. These Directions first came into effect at 11.59pm on Thursday 21 October 2021, but have already been updated over the weekend. They are part of the end of the lockdown of metropolitan Melbourne, with a range of obligations on operators of open premises within metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

All operators of open premises in Victoria need to be aware of the requirements of the Open Premises Directions and should consider the compliance, systems and privacy implications of them. Open premises include certain businesses such as hospitality, food & drink, some retail, accommodation, community, education, entertainment and physical recreation. The Directions will also apply to some operations of local government.

Quick Overview

From 11:59pm on 21 October 2021, the operators of all open premises in Victoria must:

  • comply with the caps and density limits for indoor and outdoor spaces; and
  • have in place a system which requires all patrons to show acceptable evidence of being fully vaccinated (unless exempt) each time they enter the premises, to a worker acting as a Check-in Marshall; and
  • subject to some exceptions, require all workers at the premises to have been fully vaccinated (unless exempt) and to collect, hold and provide vaccination information about each worker; and
  • comply with a number of premises specific obligations.

These Directions nominally expire at 11.59pm on 18 November 2021, however the Victorian Government has announced an intention to revoke the capacity caps earlier (but still maintain a limit of 1 person per 4m2), with effect from 6pm on Friday 29 October 2021.

It is likely that open premises operators will continue to have an ongoing requirement to have in place systems to ensure patrons are fully vaccinated (or exempt) and to collect, hold and provide worker vaccination information, even after the State reaches its target of at least 90% of the over 16 population being fully vaccinated and well into 2022.

It should be noted that different vaccination requirements continue to apply to certain facilities, such as those in aged care and construction, under the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Directions. There are also separate Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions that impose different vaccination requirements for other industries - those workers are not required to be fully vaccinated until 26 November 2021.

Future obligations

This is a rapidly changing area. The Chief Health Officer has indicated that the application and implications of directions are reviewed daily. Further, the details that accompany Victoria’s reopening roadmap are being refined by the Victorian Government and it is expected that further health directions will be made to coincide with when Victoria is scheduled to move to Phase C of the National Plan at 6pm Friday 29 October.

At this stage, the Open Premises Directions do not apply more generally to offices and it is not yet entirely clear what rules will apply to offices. Accordingly, businesses should continually assess their rights and obligations.

Do you have any questions about the Open Premises Directions?

Please contact a member of our team.

By Robert Gregory & Sam McKenzie

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