Don’t hold your breath or anything, but thanks to the falling COVID numbers in Victoria there is an outside, remote, very slight chance that folks in Melbourne may be able to watch this year’s AFL Grand Final at the pub. And it’s such a Not Zero chance that the Government is giving pubs the go head to start taking very tentative bookings for the big day.

Previously, Victoria’s next step of eased lockdowns was scheduled to begin from October 26th, two days after the Grand Final which is scheduled for the 24th.

But with Premier Dan Andrews announcing last week that that step РStep 3 on the Victorian roadmap Рwould no longer be tied to a specific date, the door for Grand Final at the pub cracked ever-so-slightly ajar.

Current Victorian Government modelling suggests that the next trigger point, consisting of a 14-day Metro Melbourne rolling average of 5 new cases per day coupled with less than 5 cases of unknown origin statewide in that same time, could be hit by as early as October 19th.

That would mean pubs would be allowed to welcome punters back on Grand Final day, with Step 3 restrictions permitting outdoor seated service to resume. Per the Victorian Roadmap guidelines, groups of up to 10 would be able to congregate in outdoor seated pub areas, with tables 1.5 metres apart.

This morning, Andrews asserted that pubs could tentatively start taking bookings for the AFL Grand Final, which is due to be played in Brisbane for the first time in footy history. However, Andrews stated that pubs also had to be prepared to cancel them in the event that trigger points weren’t reached.

“They can take a booking but there is some risk that those bookings would be cancelled. It is one of those things that despite our best efforts, we can’t tell people in those sorts of businesses or across the state what the numbers will allow us to do on the 18th or 19th or on the 10th or the 11th for instance,” Andrews asserted.

Addressing growing frustration among the hospitality industry that re-opening on no notice is unfeasible, Andrews then stated “I don’t think we will get to a situation where we can give a cafe, bar or restaurant, those sorts of venue, a full week or two weeks’ notice. We won’t be able to do that.”

“I know that isn’t ideal but I think that being open even under those circumstances would be highly preferable than not being open but nothing about this is simple or easy. We just won’t know whether we can take that step until quite close to when that step can be safely taken, if that makes sense,” he said.

It’s not exactly the confirmation that we can, in essence, get back on the beers. But it’s a very, very cautious step forwards towards that glorious day.

Victoria, for the record, recorded 9 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. There are 14 days until that October 19th benchmark date. The current Metro Melbourne rolling 14-day average is 11.6. 14 days ago, it was 34.4.

Fingers crossed, mates.

Image: Getty Images / Michael Dodge