Hospitality — food and beverage services sector guidance

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

Getting back to COVIDSafe Settings

From 11:59pm on Friday 26 February 2021, Victoria will return to COVIDSafe Settings 

For more detail, please see the Premier’s statement and the COVIDSafe Settings.

This page has information for all hospitality businesses, including: 

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

Industry Restart Guidelines

Frequently asked questions - COVIDSafe Summer

Updated: 26 February 2021

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

What are the current face mask requirements?

You must always carry a face mask with you when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason not to.

Face masks continue to be mandatory in some locations, unless a lawful reason not to wear one applies.

For a full list of settings where masks continue to be mandatory, see: Face masks.


  • The number of patrons permitted in a hospitality venue is determined by (1) its size in square metres and (2) if electronic record keeping is used (for example, QR codes). 

    For venues less than 50 square metres: 

    • if the venue uses electronic record keeping (for example, QR codes) 25 patrons are permitted; or
    • if the venue uses written record keeping, the venue must apply the density quotient of one person per four square metres.

    For venues 50 square metres or more:

    • if the venue uses electronic record keeping (for example, QR codes), the venue can apply the density quotient of one person per two square metres; or
    • if the venue uses written record keeping, the venue must apply the density quotient of one person per four square metres.

    Businesses are strongly encouraged to use electronic recording keeping such as QR codes to support contact tracing. The Victorian Government QR Code Service is free for all Victorian businesses, organisations, clubs and events. For more information on this free service see the Victorian Government QR Code Service

  • A maximum of 50 people are allowed on a dance floor, subject to a density quotient of one person per four square metres. 

  • A density quotient is the number of people permitted for each set measurement of space. A density quotient is designed to support physical distancing, minimise close contact between people, and to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

  • The Victorian Government has made changes to planning and permit requirements for outdoor dining, to assist local councils fast-track applications and approvals. Outdoor trade approvals required as part of the Outdoor Activation Initiative are being 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 and approvals for Temporary Limited Licences. This means already-licensed businesses can serve alcohol in their new outdoor dining areas.

    An unlicensed business that wants 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.

    For more information, eligibility requirements and to begin an application, visit the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation website. 

  • No. If you hold a general or late night (general) liquor licence, you do not need to apply for a Temporary Limited Licence. You can already supply liquor in outdoor areas (for example, 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.

    For more information, visit the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation website. 

  • 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 Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is required to supply liquor.

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

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

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

    • any Victorian Government directions and/or restrictions in relation to COVID-19; and
    • the local council’s written permission to use the outdoor area; and
    • your permanent licence.
  • Yes. Chefs can remove their face mask to taste food, but it is strongly recommended they wear a face mask at all other times.

    When 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 or 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 disinfection 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 must be cleaned and disinfected after each group of patrons. This includes items like sugar, salt, pepper, water jugs, reusable cups and glasses. 

  • 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 so, food packaging can be sanitised with common household disinfectants such as alcohol-based sanitiser.

    For further information, please visit Food Safety Standards.

  • No. The density quotient does not apply to workers in kitchens within the  workplaces, however workers in the kitchen must practise physical distancing where possible.

  • 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 disinfected after each use, or single-use paper menus disposed of after each use. General non-contact signage can also be used to display menus, or you can ask patrons to visit the menu online.

    Takeaway menus should be placed outside the venue.

  • 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, therefore are not practical for use in hospitality at this time.

    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.

  • 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


  • Yes, businesses can accept reusable cups. 

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

  • Yes. The ‘contactless pour’ technique means that the only person to touch the reusable cup is the person who brought it into the cafe.

    The contactless pour technique involves:

    1. customers placing their clean reusable cup onto the counter or tray without the lid
    2. the beverage being made in an in-house vessel and poured into the customer’s cup without touching it
    3. the customer placing the lid on their reusable cup.
  • ‘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 COVID-19 due to the risk to lung health and risk of transmission of 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.

    For more information see cleaning and disinfection requirements.

Reviewed 26 February 2021

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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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