September 20, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Victoria’s roadmap to emerge from lockdown was announced by the state’s Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday and it simultaneously offers more and fewer freedoms to the community and a more restrictive environment for events than the plan unveiled by New South Wales a couple of weeks ago.

The roadmap has the lockdown ending for everyone – both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated – once the state has 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated, which is estimated to occur around October 26.

“The reasons to leave your home and the curfew will no longer be in place. Lockdown will be off,” said Andrews at yesterday’s press conference.

In the press release announcing the road map, events get a special mention, which is both reassuring and flags further uncertainty for the sector.

“There is very little precedence in Australia for fully vaccinated events, which is why the Government will conduct trials to support businesses as much as possible in the lead up to transitioning to a ‘vaccinated economy’ in this state, and ensure we have the right systems in place,” it says.

“Both one-off events and specific venues will be considered – with businesses permitted to operate with higher patron caps if all staff and patrons provide evidence of full vaccination. Areas in regional Victoria with highest vaccination rates and no COVID-19 cases will be the first to be considered for these trials.”

Taking the reopening plan at immediate face value, with 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated, entertainment and hospitality venues – under which guidelines we assume events and business events will primarily operate – will be able to operate outdoors only with a cap of 50 fully vaccinated people in metropolitan Melbourne. Once the state has 80 percent of its population fully vaccinated – the suggested date for this is roughly November 5 – up to 150 fully vaccinated people will be able to gather per space indoors at one person per four square metres. Hospitality venues will be required to provide seated service only at both 70 and 80 percent.

At 80 percent fully vaccinated, hospitality venues can have up to 500 people outdoors at one person per two square metres. Seated outdoor entertainment venues will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity or with up to 5,000 people, whichever is lesser and unseated venues can operate at up to 50 percent capacity.

By contrast in NSW, event venues with COVIDSafe plans in place will be able to operate at one person per four square metres or 75 percent of fixed seating capacity inside and one per two square metres outside as soon as the state hits 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

There is a note on Victoria’s reopening roadmap which indicates that those running an event which “fulfils the definition of a public event” can apply to have their activity considered under the Public Events Framework. However, the Public Events Framework has not been updated since May 26 – more than two months before the current lockdown began – so does not currently provide usable information for the events industry to start planning.

Other features of the plan at 70 percent vaccination include 10 vaccinated people being allowed to meet outdoors and five for those with “vaccination status unknown”, an expanded 25km travel radius, a continued ban on visitors at home, but attendance at accommodation providers allowed for households or bubbles, regardless of vaccination status.

Activities that require gatherings of larger numbers of people are generally restricted to those who are fully vaccinated, including in hospitality venues – capped at 50, outdoors only, and one person per four square metres – and entertainment venues, again capped at 50 and outdoors only, one per four square metres.

Beauty services, including hairdressers will be allowed to have five fully vaccinated people indoors. Non-essential retail will be allowed to operate “outdoor services” only, which, we assume, rules out almost everything except markets.

With 80 percent of the state fully vaccinated, rules ease considerably, with the travel radius removed and regional travel permitted, up to 10 people allowed to visit homes (vaccination status not specified), considerably easing of capacity limits in venues for the fully vaccinated, as mentioned above, and hilariously, for beauty services, which will be allowed to have up to 150 fully vaccinated people onsite, as long as the one person per four square metres directive is fulfilled. All retail will also open – no vaccination rules apply.