As Melbourne looks to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 through the city and the rest of Victoria, tighter restrictions will come into force from midnight tonight.

When the move to Stage Four was initially announced a document from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) indicated that pubs, hotels, bars, clubs and nightclubs would be wholly closed. With cafes and restaurants allowed to stay open for delivery.

This raised the ire of many of the city’s venue operators who were angry at being closed down, while other businesses were able to stay open.

However, Sven Almenning of Speakeasy Group told The Shout, it was “100 per cent” his understanding that they can continue deliveries. “I’ve spoken to the various industry bodies on that, and delivery 100 per cent you can still do.”

AHA Victoria agreed, saying: “It is our firm understanding that pubs and hotels that have restaurants/bistros/cafes as part of their operations are permitted to continue providing take away and home delivery in Stage Four restrictions.”

And that position was finally clarified, with a spokesperson for DHHS, telling The Shout: “Pubs and bars can continue to provide takeaway food and alcohol services. They must abide by the curfew and can travel beyond the 5km radius provided it is a ‘reasonable’ distance.”

At Byrdi, Co-owner Luke Whearty said they were still working out what Stage Four would mean to their business. However, he told The Shout that the current thinking was that it would see similar operations to Stage Three, when they moved everything online with an online shop.

“At the moment the Stage Four restrictions are still very new and announcements are being made daily so we are still working out what it all means for us as a business,” Whearty said.

“Once Stage Three was announced we moved everything online and opened up an online shop. This has been really well received and we have been really humbled by the response we’ve received.”

Despite all the confusion in the new changes, Whearty said he feels like the government is doing everything in their power to get through the pandemic. It’s people not following the rules designed to do this that is the problem.

Whearty said: “It’s a really tough time for a lot of people from varying industries however we aren’t going to get to the other side unless we follow the rules.”

With pubs and bars now allowed to carry on with delivery and takeaway services, operators need to be sure that all drivers and staff working after 8pm have a worker permit. Full details on the permit are available on Victoria’s Justice Department’s website. Please note this website has had issues with crashing under the strain of visits today.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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