‘Vote with your feet’ if venues not COVID-safe, Sutton says

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Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has urged Victorians to shun hospitality businesses that fail to record the contact details of customers or introduce infection control practices.

The call for patrons to demand restaurants, cafes and pubs follow coronavirus safety measures came as Melburnians embraced their freedom and rushed to dine out after restrictions were relaxed last week.

Professor Sutton said there were still "some challenges" in the hospitality sector, although most businesses were taking customers' details on paper or using digital QR codes.

A QR scanner program at work in the Post Office Hotel, Coburg. Credit:Chris Hopkins

He insisted patrons should "vote with their feet" if they were not comfortable with hygiene measures at hospitality venues.

"If you can’t find a book where you can record your name and details, ask for it. If you’re seeing a waiter or waitress without a mask, demand it, because it’s for your safety those things are in place," he said.

"It is a case of calling industry up to the standards we’re setting."

Chief Health Office Brett Sutton with Deputy Premier James Merlino on Sunday. Credit:Chris Hopkins

Victoria recorded another day with no new infections or deaths on Sunday. Police said they issued 54 fines for breaches of COVID-19 rules in the 24 hours to Sunday afternoon, but did not provide a breakdown of those offences.

Professor Sutton said while face masks will remain part of the Melbourne look for some time, the state will transition from universal mask wearing to just using them in high-risk settings, once authorities are confident community transmission is very low.

"Clearly, if there is no transmission at all, masks are not a requirement," he said. "What we shouldn’t be complacent about is thinking that if we have a few days without cases that there is never a requirement for masks."

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said education and training were crucial for providing a safe environment in hospitality venues. He agreed customers should go elsewhere if they felt unsafe at a particular business.

The Post Office Hotel in Coburg introduced a QR code system after the previous lockdown. Bar manager Riley Futo said customers had now accepted it as standard practice at the venue, which has been busy since reopening last week.

Post Office Hotel bar manager Riley Futo takes customer details as Ned Daniher and Owen Patterson use the QR scanner.Credit:Chris Hopkins

"This time around, everyone's been very obliging. Everyone is just happy to get back to the pub, to be honest," he said.

Mr Futo said the check-in process took 30 seconds at most. The system was integrated with the pub's point of sales system. He said staff reassured customers who expressed privacy concerns that the data would be used for health reasons only.

The owners of the Carter Lovett restaurant in Elsternwick introduced a QR code system to record customers' details in May.

Co-owner Mary-Jane Daffy said it was easy to use and free to set up. "It's been great," she said.

Ms Daffy said customers with concerns at how the information would be used could leave their details on paper. She said all the information – whether recorded digitally or on paper – was destroyed after a month.

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