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Victoria to open pubs and restaurants in two weeks after lockdown measures were widely criticised 

Victorians will be able to eat and drink inside restaurants, cafes and pubs again from the start of June, under an easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Such venues will be able to host up to 20 people in an enclosed space from June 1, Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday.

That number will increase to 50 from June 22, and to 100 during the second half of July.

But businesses will have to adhere to strict social distancing rules which include a staying 1.5metres apart and having four square metres of space per person.       

Victoria has been the strictest Australian state, with the premier coming under fire for having people remain in isolation for Mother’s Day.

But the premier stressed social distancing measures – which are being hashed out with industry leaders – will have to be followed. 

‘It is a long and extensive set of rules,’ Mr Andrews said. 

‘Cleaning, 1.5metre spacing, a screening of staff to make sure they don’t have any symptoms.’

‘All of those protocols are being worked through the industry. All of those protocols, those rules, are critically important.’

‘This will only work if those who are going out to a cafe or going out for a meal at a restaurant or going to the bistro in a pub actually follow those rules, do the right thing, take these things seriously.’  

Victorian cafes and restaurants that have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic could only serve takeaways.

The development comes after another 50,000 tests were conducted in the past week, with the state government given confidence by the low rates of community transmission. 

Victoria recorded another seven COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the state’s total so far to 1561.

Two cases are linked to existing outbreaks, three were found in hotel quarantine and the other two cases are being investigated.  

Last week Victoria finally relaxed the coronavirus restrictions to allow recreational activities and home visits. 

From 11.59pm on Tuesday, Victorians were allowed to invite five people into their homes and could gather in groups of ten outside for socialising and recreation.

Activities such as golf, hiking, fishing, walking, sunbathing and kicking a football around are once again allowed with social distancing.

The state also allowed professional sports teams to start training from Wednesday, paving the way for games to restart in the near future.

Premier Daniel Andrews also said schools in the state will be allowed to resume ‘soon’ – but a timeframe is still being decided.

Schools will begin returning back to normal from the last week of May and the AFLE season could be back by June 11.

When asked about relaxing pub lockdown laws last week Mr Andrews said: ‘We can’t get back on the beers yet’.

‘There will be a time for that and no one will enjoy making that announcement more than me, let me assure you of that. There might even be props involved,’ he told reporters.     

People in New South Wales and Queensland enjoyed relaxed restrictions over the weekend, with people flocking to restaurants and cafes to sit down for a feed.

Eateries and coffee houses in NSW opened their doors early to punters, though were only allowed to let ten people at a time inside with social distancing in place. 

In Sydney, locals braved a cold, wet morning to catch up with friends and family as cafes, restaurants and bars opened under the proviso they limit patrons to 10 at any one time.

People in Queensland also lapped up their first day of eased restrictions with many flocking to reopened restaurants and bars.

Bookings must be made to eat at the establishments and people still need to remain 1.5metres apart but can now dine out with family and friends.  

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