What Victorian businesses must close or can stay open under new stage 4 covid-19 restrictions

The Victorian government has announced new rules for the state’s businesses with tough new restrictions in particular applying in Melbourne. There will be shutdowns for retail, manufacturing and professional services workplaces as well as tight restrictions on construction and transport.

Businesses that have to close their onsite operations will need to do so by 11.59pm on Wednesday and remain closed for six weeks. All businesses that are allowed to maintain some operations onsite will need to complete a COVIDSafe plan by 11.59 on Friday.

While essential services including supermarkets, chemists, petrol stations, bottle shops, and banks remain open, other retailers, manufacturers and service-based businesses will close. Some retailers can open for contactless ‘click and collect’ or delivery. Other workplaces, including building sites and abattoirs, will operate on minimal mandated staffing levels. The rules on what businesses can or cannot open are listed below.

Download the Stage 4 Industries Restrictions.

Here are the key details:

* All open businesses and services will have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVIDSafe plan. This plan must focus on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.

Details on creating a COVID Safe workplace are available here .

What stays open:
The following retail services (plus everyone involved in our frontline response) will continue to operate:
* supermarkets
* grocery stores
* bottle shops
* pharmacies
* petrol stations
* banks
* news agencies
* post offices

What has to close
Industries where onsite operations will have to cease for the next 6 weeks include
* retail
* some manufacturing
* administration

Retail stores not listed above will be permitted to operate contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place.

Hardware stores can remain open onsite, but for tradespeople only.

Industries permitted to operate
In industries that can’t close, but where we’ve seen a number of cases or emerging new risks, we’ll be making some big changes to make these workplaces safer – for workers and for their families.

This includes mandated reductions to the number of workers onsite.
* The meat industry workforce will be scaled back to two-thirds. This will apply to abattoirs in Melbourne and across the state.
* Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time.
* The construction sector will also move to pilot-light levels. For major construction sites, that means the absolute minimum required for safety – but no more than 25% of the normal workforce onsite. Small-scale construction will be limited to a maximum of 5 people onsite.

These workplaces that are continuing to operate will also have additional requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.

Support for affected businesses
For those businesses that suffer significant losses or need to close as a result of the current restrictions, Business Victoria will provide support through their expanded Business Support Fund

These restrictions mean that many businesses will have to operate in a limited capacity or can no longer operate.

To support businesses impacted by these restrictions, one-off grants will be made available to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program:

* $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of spending longer under restrictions
* $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas (except Mitchell Shire)

Businesses which have already received a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant, or have applied for one, will not need to re-apply. Successful applicants will automatically receive this additional allocation.

Applications for the program will be extended until 14 September 2020.
This program is in addition to the first round of the Business Support Fund, which closed on 1 June 2020.

Applications – Apply Now

Melbourne curfew
As of 2 August, a curfew is in place between the hours of 8pm to 5am. There are exceptions to the curfew, but you must only leave your home for one of the following reasons (not multiple):
* To purchase food or necessary supplies
* Work (studying is no longer an exception and must be done remotely)
* Exercise (one-hour limit)
* Caregiving and healthcare

Given these restrictions and exceptions, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to stay open (only for pick-up and delivery) during curfew hours as customers will be allowed to collect their orders and services such as UberEats and Menulog are not impacted.

The five-kilometer rule
From 2 August, all residents of Melbourne will not be allowed to travel more than five kilometers from their home. This will greatly impact many businesses such as independent grocers, petrol stations and restaurants as their trade will be limited to local customers only. For an indication of the distance you can travel, this website can show you a five-kilometer radius from your home.The new five-kilometer rule also apply for exercise, which is now limited to one-hour per day. Hopefully as a community we can band together and support our local business’ still able to operate.

Businesses can now call a Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 for the latest information on the COVID-19 response, how this affects businesses, how to keep their workplace safe and advice on how to plan for dealing with the current situation and anticipate likely developments. The hotline can also provide information about support services and what financial assistance might be available.

Click here for more detailed resources from The Victorian Chamber.