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Hospitality — food and beverage services sector guidance

Sector guidance for hospitality (food and beverage) businesses within Victoria.

COVIDSafe Summer — new restrictions apply from 11:59pm, Sunday 17 January 2021

From 11:59pm on Sunday 17 January face masks will no longer be mandatory in most public indoor settings.

  • Face masks continue to be mandatory in airports, hospitals, large retail stores over 2000 sqm, shopping centres, indoor markets, in taxis and rideshares, on public transport, and on domestic flights to and from Victoria.
  • You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason not to.
  • It is strongly recommended you wear one whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others.

Find out more about COVIDSafe Summer restrictions.

Information to help your business Stay Safe and Stay Open

Every Victorian business must have a COVIDSafe Plan and follow the six principles of COVIDSafe workplaces.

Also see:

This page has information for all hospitality businesses, including: 

  • cafes and restaurants
  • pubs
  • bars
  • nightclubs
  • RSLs.

Industry Restart Guidelines

Frequently asked questions

Updated on: 11 December 2020

Read below for answers to frequently asked questions by businesses within the hospitality sector.

Find out more about Victoria’s COVIDSafe Summer.

Hospitality

  • Hospitality venues can open for full indoor and outdoor service, with COVIDSafe requirements including density quotient.
    Up to 25 patrons are allowed in a hospitality venue before density quotients  apply. If more than 25 patrons are in a venue, the density quotient  of one person per two square metres applies. 

    A maximum of 50 people are allowed on a dance floor, subject to a density quotient of one person per four square metres
    Staff are not included in the density quotient. 

    Electronic record keeping (e.g. QR codes) is not required in hospitality venues if a density quotient of one person per four square metres is applied (or a greater density quotient).

    Electronic record keeping is required in hospitality venues if a density quotient of one person per two square metres is applied (or a greater density quotient). Electronic record keeping is also required if the total area of all indoor and outdoor spaces at the hospitality venue is less than 50 square metres and you have up to 25 patrons in your facility, and this 25 patrons reflects a density quotient of less than one person per four square metres. 


    Further information is available in the Industry Restart Guidelines — Hospitality.

  • A density quotient is the number of people permitted for each set measurement of space. The density quotient is designed to minimise close contact between people, to reduce potential transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • The Victorian Government has made changes to planning and permit requirements for outdoor dining. These changes are assisting local councils fast-track applications for outdoor trade approvals required for the Outdoor Activation Initiative, to be implemented efficiently and safely through to 30 June 2021.

    These changes allow the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s ( VCGLR) approval process to fast-track applications for Temporary Limited Licences. This means already-licensed businesses can serve alcohol in their new outdoor dining areas.

    An unlicensed business that wishes to supply liquor in a public outdoor area will need to apply for a new liquor licence. New liquor licence applicants are subject to licensing requirements under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 that cannot be bypassed or fast-tracked.

  • A business with an existing liquor licence that currently does not permit the supply of liquor in a public outdoor area must first apply to their local council for approval to use any outdoor spaces identified for outdoor dining. Council approval is required for the liquor licensing approval application.

    The licensed business must then provide the written permission from their local council to use public outdoor areas that are not currently authorised under the licensee’s existing permanent liquor licence to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). This should be provided as part of their application for a Temporary Limited Licence to allow for the outdoor service of alcohol. Please refer to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) website for further information regarding eligibility requirements and the application.

    The VCGLR has implemented a streamlined process to ensure licensed venues can be swiftly provided with a Temporary Limited Licence. The VCGLR will endeavour to process applications within three days. This will help to fast-track businesses’ ability to offer outdoor dining.

  • No. If you hold a general or late night (general) liquor licence, you do not need to apply for a Temporary Limited Licence because you can already supply liquor in outdoor areas (being footpaths or kerbside areas) under your existing licence. All use of outdoor areas is subject to you complying with the council’s local laws and/or planning requirements. Visit the VCGLR’s website for further information.

  • Businesses that don’t have a liquor licence can still operate outdoor dining if they have local council approval to operate an outdoor dining area. Liquor must not be supplied. A liquor licence issued by the VCGLR is required to supply liquor.

  • Trading hours for outdoor dining are the lesser of the hours permitted under:

    • any Victorian Government directions and/or restrictions in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19); and
    • the local council’s written permission to use the outdoor area; and
    • your permanent licence.
  • No. It is no longer mandatory to wear face masks, but It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask when you can’t maintain a 1.5 metre distance from other people.

    If wearing a face mask, ensure strict hand hygiene is conducted whenever it is removed and replaced, such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser before and after removing the mask. 

  • Self-service buffet-style food service areas, cutlery and glass stations, and communal drink and condiment stations are not recommended. Free drinking water should be provided via table service rather than at self-serve stations.

  • Yes. Having set seatings so there is minimal overlap between different groups is recommended. If businesses choose to set a time limit on bookings, this should be kept to no more than two hours, particularly if there is more than one group sharing the same space.

  • Venues may continue to use their cutlery, crockery and beverage containers with appropriate hygiene, cleaning and sanitation processes in place.

    Disposable serving ware is not required.

    See Industry Restart Guidelines – Hospitality for further information on hygiene, cleaning and sanitation processes.

  • The number of condiments available on tables should be minimised where possible. Where they are offered, they should be cleaned after each group of patrons. This includes items like sugar, salt, pepper and water jugs. If provided, condiments should be disinfected between uses and jugs of water should be properly cleaned before reuse. Reusable cups or glasses should be offered with water jugs where possible.

  • All perishable food such as fresh fruit and vegetables should be cleaned as usual. Do not use soap, disinfectants or detergents to wash your food. These cleaning products are not designed for human consumption and may be unsafe to use with food. If required, and safe to do, food packaging can be sanitised with common household disinfectants such as alcohol-based sanitiser.

    For further information, please visit Food Safety Standards.

  • The density quotient limit does not apply to workers in kitchens within the  workplaces, however staff working in the kitchen must practise physical distancing where possible.

    It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask when you can’t maintain a 1.5 metre distance from other people. 
    When it is not practical to do so, such as when tasting food, the face mask can be removed and replaced when the activity is finished. 

    Ensure strict hand hygiene is conducted whenever a face mask is removed and replaced, such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser before and after removing the mask. 

  • Yes. Shared plates can be ordered and should be shared within a group if possible.  Buffet service should be avoided.

  • Menus should be either laminated and sanitised after each use or single-use paper menus. General non-contact signage can also be used to display menus, or ask patrons to visit the menu online.

    Takeaway menus should be placed outside the venue.

  • Outdoor dining permits are overseen by local councils. Please contact your local council for more information about outdoor dining permits.

  • Bean bags can be used in the hospitality industry if they can be cleaned regularly. Bean bags intended for public use should be made of a fabric that is easy to clean (for example, vinyl), and therefore covers that are not easy to clean with frequency are not recommended for public use.

    Covers made of fabric would require washing at least daily on a hot setting, and would need to be spot-cleaned if they are visibly dirty. We believe this makes them not practical for use in hospitality.

    Bean bags should be stored in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place to prevent growth of mould on the bag which may occur if they have been sitting on damp ground.

    This advice applies to bean bags that are used both indoors and outdoors. Please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.

  • The Temporary Limited Licences issued by the VCGLR expires when your local council permission for outdoor trading expires. Councils are encouraged to provide approval of these arrangements to 30 June 2021.

  • Weddings at a hospitality venue are subject to the density quotient (one person per two square metres). A maximum of 50 people are allowed on the dance floor, subject to the density quotient of one person per four square metres

Operation

  • Electronic record keeping is required in hospitality venues if a density quotient of one person per two square metres is applied. Electronic record keeping is also required if the total area of all indoor and outdoor spaces at the hospitality venue is less than 50 square metres and you have up to 25 patrons in your facility, and this 25 patrons reflects a density quotient of less than one person per four square metres. 

    Electronic record keeping (e.g. QR codes) is not required in hospitality venues if a density quotient of one person per four square metres is applied (or a greater density quotient).

  • Yes, businesses can accept reusable cups. Some cafés are also adopting a ‘contactless pour’ technique which means that the only person to touch the reusable cup is the person who brought it into the café.

    The contactless pour technique involves the following steps:

    1. Customers place their clean reusable cup onto the counter or tray without the lid.
    2. The beverage is made in an in-house vessel and poured into the customer’s cup without touching it.
    3. The customer places the lid on their reusable cup.

    Businesses are under no obligation to accept dirty cups and must follow other COVIDSafe principles such as practising good hygiene.

  • ‘Swap and go’ schemes for reusable containers or packaging can be used with appropriate hygiene, cleaning and sanitation processes in place. Returned containers must be cleaned prior to reuse.

  • Shisha smoking is not recommended in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) due to the risk to lung health and risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

    If shisha is served, waterpipes cannot be shared, regardless of whether the person is part of the same group at a table. Each person must be provided with an individual disposable mouthpiece. Waterpipe equipment, including the water jar, must be thoroughly washed and cleaned appropriately after each smoking session. 

    It is also important to ensure floors and surfaces that droplets might settle on are cleaned frequently.

Reviewed 25 January 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

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The Business Victoria hotline provides information on restrictions and support to help your workplace plan and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Call Business Victoria on 13 22 15

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