Coronavirus: Lifting Restrictions for Australian Restaurants

The Resy Team
Posted by  The Resy Team  on May 17, 2020 8:04:30 PM

Dear Restaurants, 

Over the past six months this industry has experienced extreme hardship in the wake of the bushfire crisis, and again with the COVID-19 outbreak. In response to last week's nationwide announcements we have aggregated information as it relates to COVID-19 and reopening the hospitality industry in Australia.

Updated 26 October 2020 at 22:16 

Reopening the Economy

If you're still operating, your COVIDSafe Plan will help protect your teams and guests.

Regional Guidelines

Summary of Australia's state by state lockdown rules


From Friday, 23 October, some COVID-19 restrictions will be eased in NSW:

  • 30 people can gather outdoors in public spaces 
  • 30 customers per booking, and 30 customers per table at hospitality venues 
  • From 16 October 2020, corporate functions of up to 300 people can now be held at any appropriate premises, including at restaurants, subject to a COVID-Safe plan 
How to apply for the Pop-up licence which is aimed at supporting those who wish to operate small-scale pop-up bars and events, such as pop-up bars and restaurants, art shows, live performances. 

Streamlined Application Process for Outdoor Dining: A City of Sydney trial and state-wide roll out of the 12-month trail is expected in the coming months. The trial started as COVID-19 restrictions were eased for outdoor dining and outdoor music performances. Liquor & Gaming NSW is working with Place Management NSW, City of Sydney and NSW Police to approve applications. 

  • All venues participating need to have an updated COVID-19 Safety Plan in place and follow the latest Public Health Orders.  Venues must record customer contact details, and if taking up the eased COVID-19 restrictions they must do this electronically such as with QR codes. Businesses serving alcohol need to have a liquor licence.
  • Businesses in participating council areas will be able to apply to their local council. Council will notify Liquor & Gaming NSW, who will complete compliance checks and update licence boundaries to include the new outdoor spaces. Councils will advise venues once their application has been approved. 

From October 16, hospitality venues will be allowed to have one guest for every two square metres outdoors. Premises wishing to do so, must use an electric method to record and keep guests' details to support contact tracing. 

There are no changes to indoor dining restrictions: 

  • Maximum of 10 people per booking or per table.
  • Maximum of 10 people on a group entering or being on the premises.
  • Alcohol can only be consumed by seated customers.
  • Maximum of 300 people in the venue at any one time or one customer per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser.
  • Venues must assign one staff member as a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal who will be in distinctive clothing (eg shirt or badge) and responsible for ensuring all aspects of the COVID-19 Safety Plan are being adhered to including overseeing social distancing, cleaning and ensuring the accuracy and legibility of records. 
  • All customers (unless only collecting takeaway) must sign-in by providing accurate contact details (name and phone number or email address) and their time of entry.
    • Paper sign-in is permitted, however venues must create a digital record of customer contact details within 24 hours and provide it immediately if requested.  

Hospitality Rules in Victoria:

From 28 October, Melbourne will move out of lockdown into the Third Step, with restrictions easing including:

  • People can freely leave their homes
  • All retail stores, restaurants, cafes and bars will re-open, with group limits of 10 patrons indoors
  • Restaurants, pubs, cafes, hotels and bars can reopen
    • Outdoors with a limit of up to 50, with one person per two square metres
    • Indoors up to 20, seated, with 10 people per space
    • Record keeping and COVIDSafe Plans still apply
Outdoor Activation Initiative: The Victorian Government is making changes to planning and permit requirements for outdoor dining. These changes will assist local councils fast-track applications for outdoor trade approvals, to be implemented efficiently and safely through to 30 June 2021.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation's (VCGLR) will be able to fast-track applications for Temporary Limited Licenses.

Existing licensees will first need written permission from their local council to use public external/outdoor areas that are not currently authorised under the licensee’s existing permanent liquor licence. Licensed business must 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 VCGLR. 

Unlicensed businesses that wish to serve liquor in a public outdoor area will need to apply for a new liquor licence. 

There is no fee associated with applying for an outdoor area temporary licence in relation to a public outdoor area. The VCGLR will endeavour to process applications within three days. 

Regional Victoria Restrictions: Hospitality businesses can serve guests outdoors with a cap of 50 seated patrons per venue and an updated “two square metre” per guest limit in place. 

Indoors, hospitality businesses can open with a limit of 10 seated customers per space – with up to two spaces per venue – and in line with the existing “four square metre” density rule.

Tables must be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart, cleaned after every customer and the details of all patrons must be kept.

There is a two-hour limit on bookings for groups of less than 10 people.

For a summary of available resources and restrictions by state, please refer to the RC&A Coronavirus Hub


The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of government contact tracing. It allows the government to contact any person who has downloaded the app and notify them if they have been exposed to COVID-19. The technology is able to detect others with the app through a digital handshake using Bluetooth. 

The number of downloads of COVIDSafe is playing a key role in the relaxing of restrictions nationwide.

At the end of the pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the app from their phone (Contact App FAQs).}

Preparing to Reopen

Restaurants and bars are the place where socialisation happens and while they may not be exactly as they were prior to the pandemic, below are some practical considerations operators are making. 

Review all lines of your business. A sustained reduction in revenue will force you to evaluate and determine how you will turn your trajectory around in the long term. 

Review all menus and wine lists. International supply chains have been severely disrupted, supporting local appeals to the guest and can also allow for better planning and forecasting your menu items each season. Bars and Wine Bars are offering Cocktails and Wine in 500 ml's Carafes to reduce the number of trips to the bar or returned trips from a waiter. 

Think about the atmosphere including ways that you can use lighting and art to fill the space without creating physical dividers. The pandemic has spurred a feeling of unrest, grief, and anxiety among consumers, who are now craving colours that instil a sense of reassurance and comfort. Architectural digest expects that spaces will gravitate towards hues that mimic the sensation of being in nature, in city spaces in particular. These colours promote internal peace in an age where mental and physical well-being are critical (Architectural Digest). Refresh your playlists and help build a sense of socialisation and modernity with the venue. 

Training employees to meet the cautious consumer and improve customer experience (RCA Best Practice Training). Customer service remains number one, review your training scripts and edit them to have a focus on welcoming back the customer. If your sequence of service calls for multiple touch-points at the table.

Shift your marketing key message to build confidence 

Social media platform usage and engagement has increased significantly during COVID-19. Create a strategy to communicate with your guests regarding what your business is doing at each phase of the reopen in order to emphasise safety and build confidence (Communicating with your guests, Resy).

  • Communicate new hygiene processes to create a sense of security and safety. Share information on how you are keeping your property clean and safe through videos, photos and checklists (World Health Organisation FAQ for SMB).
  • If cancellations occur, manage them with compassion (Hospitality Net).
  • Highlight different areas of the venue such as outdoor space(s) and the bar, to show how you will be enacting social distancing measures. 
  • Market hyper locally and think about which customers were most affected by your closure. 
  • Leverage local partnerships and host a pop-up with another venue. 

Bringing in Revenue

Below are some revenue diversification options including a calculator to help evaluate your business. 

The Pandemic Pivot

A 30-minute free tool to re-imagine your business over the coming months. The tool calculates your current business model’s viability considering social distancing and how new product offerings might affect your business economics. Together, you can evaluate sustainability and profitability between the two.

Delivery and Pick-Up

We have seen many businesses pivot rapidly to a Delivery and Pick-Up Model. In some cases, delivery has been a band-aid solution to maintain cash flow under restrictions. However, over the long term, it can be an additional source of revenue long after dining rooms have opened (F&B Covid Guide).

Mr Yum has partnered with venues across the country to surface their menus through their own website and control ordering to delivery end-to-end (self-managed). 

Most platforms offer the option for venues to fulfil the delivery portion of the order in-house. This option typically reduces commission fees, driver crowding and allows operators to keep a small team (Restaurant and Catering FAQ). 

Launched locally in September 2019, DoorDash has committed to reduce commission fees of 50% from all delivery. The platform offers free sign up periods and merchant marketing programs to drive discovery for your venue (Press Release, CEO DoorDash).

Deliveroo are offering reduced commission on order fulfilment by your team and a rigorous contactless delivery policy (Press Release, Roo Community) which they offer to customers as an option to select. The platform has created a playbook of digital marketing tools important for building confidence with your online community once you re-open. A part of the strategy is predicated on how you can communicate with guests the safety and hygiene measures you are putting into place (Playbook, Deliveroo). 

Kounta Ordering (powered by Bopple) lets customers place orders and make payments online for pick-up or self-fulfilled delivery. The POS system has additional features to help businesses make data driven decisions on how they manage stock and production. 

To avoid wastage, reach out to local authorities (food banks, hospitals, religious institutions, shelters) to check if you can supply them with excess foods. (Sydney Food Recovery Resources).

  • Restaurants doing Take-Away in Sydney (Broadsheet)
  • What Restaurants and Cafes are doing during the COVID-19 crisis (Good Food)

Create a Shop Experience

In April, Food Retail rose nationally by 26%. Converting your space into a store and offering a socially distanced experience is a way to give guests the type of hospitality and food they are accustomed to in-venue while allowing them to recreate those experiences at home. 

Some examples of bottle-shop and grocery:

Curbside pick-up and contactless payment for your patrons is encouraged (Square). 

Reduce your menu

The average delivery time from order received to fulfilment is 37 minutes. For delivery, prioritise your dishes that will travel well. In store, more popular items may have a longer shelf life. Your POS can provide useful data on your most popular and profitable menu items (RCA Advice).

If you are reviewing your menu for re-opening, consider these design methods from POS business Kounta and increase sales by removing dollar signs and price trials.

Stay Connected

Find the time to connect with other hospitality professionals. Several heads are better than one! Thought leaders in the industry have curated content relating to what the new “business as usual” could be. 

Attend a Webinar or Watch the Recording

Subscribe to Worksmith, a hospitality focused co-working space that operates as a hub for hospitality professionals to collaborate, innovate and grow. Their site Worksmith Connect has templates and quick guides for navigating commercial matters useful for both yourself and your team. In addition their Facebook page has recorded webinars covering topics including but not limited to: JobKeeper2.0, diversifying revenue, business models and reopening. 

Subscribe to Deep in the Weeds, a podcast telling the stories of hospitality people dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. The podcast talks commercial matters with influential chefs and restaurateurs, but also offers a broader perspective around mental health in hospitality paired with a pandemic. 

Subscribe to Comms Class a source for practical marketing tips and free advice on all things brand, digital and social media in hospitality and tourism. 

The Cru in Conversation - Behind the Scenes Restaurant Lockdown, an online webinar series to support and connect the community through shared experiences and learnings in hospitality.


Women in Hospitality’s COVID support plan (in partnership with Typsy, an online education platform offering tips and lessons in specialist hospitality skills) are offering free courses through September 2020 (WOHO & Typsy, Support Plan)

Restaurant and Catering Australia have released a COVID-19 Hospitality Best Practice Training Certification for employers and employees to prepare for managing customers while social distancing and cleaning premises and equipment during COVID-19. 

Subscribe to stay informed on COVID-19 updates

Recent Posts

Apr 30, 2020 10:14:18 AM

An Update for Our Partners

Jun 25, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Coronavirus: Guidance and Resources for U.K. Restaurants

More Posts