Reopening today? Are you aware of your new obligations?

Oct 22, 2021

With the lockdown ending, the Victorian Government has introduced a new set of requirements, under the ‘Open Premises Directions’.

The content of the new directions was not made available until around midnight last night, meaning many businesses opening today will be unaware of their obligations.

Starting 11:59pm 21 October 2021, premises listed in the schedule to the directions may open, subject to industry-specific patron density quotients, requirements or exceptions.

However, the following broad obligations are being imposed on ‘open premises’’.

  • Appointment of a COVID Check-In Marshal to request vaccination information – The operator must have a worker designated as a COVID-19 Check-in Marshal at the entrance of the premises, who is to request that patrons check-in and show acceptable evidence of their full vaccination status or exemption.
  • Barring entry to patrons who are not fully vaccinated or exempt – The operator must take all reasonable steps to ensure patrons who are neither fully vaccinated or exempt do not enter or remain on premise. This includes barring entry to patrons who refuse to comply with the provision of vaccination information.
  • Patron limits – The operator must observe patron limits for both indoor and outdoor spaces. For most ‘open premises’, the indoor limits are the lessor of a 4 sq m density quotient or 30 individuals and the outdoor limits are the lessor of a 2 sq m density quotient or 100 individuals. However, businesses must carefully observe industry-specific limits, requirements and exceptions.
  • Worker vaccination requirements – The operator must only allow fully vaccinated or exempted persons to return to work on premises. The operator must also collect, record and hold the vaccination information of each fully vaccinated and exempted person working on premises.

The open premises directions will and have caused some understandable confusion for industry, particularly given their disconnect with the existing vaccination directions and the burden on individual operators to police their patrons and the directions.

The COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions that are still in force and have only been in place since 07 October 2021 (and are still current with minor updates) provided a road map for retail workers, including food outlets such as cafes and restaurants, to be permitted to work so long as they have received a second dose of vaccine by 26 November 2021 to enter upon a workplace.

Obviously, following the State Government’s announcement on the weekend to re-open today, that road map created a double standard between worker and patron.

In an effort to eliminate that double standard, the open premises directions require both patrons and workers to have received their second vaccine dose before entering an ‘open premises’.

Businesses have had to scramble this week to staff fully vaccinated workers, as workers on a single vaccination dose who may still be waiting out their mandatory 3-week period between doses, are suddenly ineligible to work in an open premises.

Despite the confusion, it is important that businesses comply with all the health directions that are in force. If you have any further questions about your obligations, please reach out to Kalus Kenny Intelex on +61 3 8825 4800.