NATIONALS MP Melina Bath has questioned Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to continue the ban on seated service at cafés and restaurants.

Ms Bath said the Premier should allow businesses to decide their own viability if they could comply with the health protocols.

Earlier this week, Mr Andrews said: “I think the feedback from many businesses is that at just 10 patrons, it’s hard to be viable”.

But Ms Bath said if a café or restaurant can operate within the COVID-19 health protocols, it should be an individual choice to recommence seated service.

Under the first step of National Cabinet’s three-step plan, cafés and restaurants could reopen with the implementation of physical distancing rules and restricting seated service to a maximum of 10 patrons.

Victorian cafés and restaurants cannot open for dine-in service, while most other states and territories have recommenced – or are planning to recommence – trading with limited table service.

Ms Bath has written to the Premier asking for Victoria’s stage one recovery rules for cafés and restaurants to be brought into line with other states.

“Business owners have contacted me and are upset the Premier is ignoring national business recovery recommendations,” Ms Bath said.

“Many Gippsland café and restaurant owners are telling me they can make the health guidelines work and start rebuilding their financial viability.

“Even a small level of table service would significantly boost their business, assist economic recovery and engage employees in productive work.

“Our local cafés and restaurants have worked very hard, reinventing their business models in the fight against COVID-19.

“Together, we have all made sacrifices to flatten the curve and protect our health services.

“The hospitality industry has taken a huge financial hit throughout the pandemic but they have demonstrated they are ready and willing to adapt.

“Café and restaurants in Victoria must be given the choice to recommence seated service if they can meet National Cabinet’s health guidelines,” Ms Bath said.