Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be allowed one person per 4sq m in their venues under a national to scrap a 100-patron limit which was slated for July. But whether Victoria follows suit remains to be seen.
A limit of 20 people per enclosed space applies in Victoria until June 22, when it is due to be lifted to 50 patrons.
It will be up to the Andrews Government to officially ditch the 100-person limit — which it had planned to introduce in mid-July — on non-essential indoor gatherings, which also applies to places of worship and funerals.
The national medical expert panel is now considering whether smaller venues such as wine bars could be required to meet less restrictive density requirements, given many will struggle to function with such limited numbers of patrons.
Australian Hotels Association state chief Paddy O’Sullivan said Friday’s decision would only help a small number of pubs.
“If you want to go beyond 100 people in a pub, you have to have a massive 400 square metres,” he said.
“In a small pub you can only have so many people in your venue. It’s a killer.”
He urged the Andrews Government to match Western Australia’s rule of one person per two square metres.
“Victoria needs to come into line with other states … It’s not economical and it’s our biggest challenge,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the adjustments could be made as the states and territories remained on track to implement their three-stage plan to achieve a “COVID-safe” economy in July.
Seated outdoor concerts will be cleared to return as part of changes allowing stadiums holding fewer than 40,000 people to reopen with 25 per cent of their usual capacity.
But Mr Morrison said music festivals where patrons “roam around from tent to tent and gathering to gathering” would remain off-limits for now, and that reopening nightclubs was not on the agenda “any time soon”.
“There would need to be seats at the appropriate distance. It would need to be ticketed, and so people would be able to understand who was in attendance at that event,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the national cabinet remained committed to a policy of suppressing the virus instead of eliminating it.
“If we’re able to achieve elimination or eradication as a by-product, well, that’s well and good. But we are not going to have our policies trapped by the goal of eradication,” he said.
“It’s important to note that there being cases and there being the odd outbreak here or there, is something that is anticipated and the system has been built to deal with.”