Victoria’s ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown ends but some restriction remain

| February 17, 2021
Following the five day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that Victorians will return to COVID Normal, with a few restrictions still in place impacting businesses.

With the initial five-day lockdown having cost Victorian businesses an estimated $1 billion in revenue, the Victorian Chamber (VCCI) has been campaigning for an end to the lockdown and a return to COVID Normal. VCCI had also been calling for certainty and stability for businesses to know when and how they can operate.

“Lockdown 3.0 has knocked business confidence and we can get that back if the State Government gives us greater clarity on how the decisions to go into lockdown are made; what is the trigger and what are the guidelines?” said VCCI Chief Executive Paul Guerra.

“Victorian businesses have borne the brunt of the failures in the hotel quarantine and contact tracing systems and it’s now up to the State Government to give us everything we need to restore that confidence so that Victoria is once again the best place in Victoria to own, operate and work in a business. We need to put our economy first and find ways to manage our borders that doesn’t compromise our economy and our livelihoods.”

With 25 active cases of COVID-19 present throughout Victoria and 0 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to the Premier’s announcement, the State Government announced Victoria will revert back to a COVID Normal way of working. However, a handful of restrictions will stay in place that will continue to impact businesses.

Restrictions still in place

As the incubation period of COVID-19 extends over a two-week period, some restrictions will stay in place to circumvent any risks of a ‘third wave’.

For a full breakdown of what restrictions apply to which industries, you can view the Victorian government’s PDF here.

From 11.59pm on 17 February, the ‘four reasons to leave home’ and the five-kilometer boundary will no longer apply for all residents, which will come as a relief to many businesses.

All retail and hospitality businesses will be allowed to reopen from 11:59pm on 17 February with the same one person per every two square meter density limit that was in place prior to lockdown continues to apply.

Face masks will be required to be worn indoors at all times (including in the workplace), and outdoors where people can’t socially distance effectively. While many workers will find it frustrating, employers and managers will need to remind their staff that it is a necessary requirement.

The only exception to the face mask rule will be for medical reasons or during beauty treatments where face masks are required but can be removed if necessary.

Workplaces in both the private and public sector will remain with up to 50 per cent capacity of their workforce in the workplace. All workplaces with onsite workers require a COVIDSafe Plan. For templates and guides, the Victorian Chamber has a range of resources that can assist you develop and implement a COVIDSafe Plan.

While public gatherings will be limited to 20 people, seated entertainment venues will be open with a cap of 50 per cent of seating capacity – to a maximum of 300 people per space. Likewise, cinemas will be restricted to 300 people per indoor space, where non-seated venues (such as art galleries) will have a patron cap of 300 people per space.