By Nick Sinis

WITH restrictions easing from tomorrow (Friday, June 4) in regional Victoria, it isn’t all good news for hospitality venues, with seated service capped at 50 people.
This is also subject to density requirements of one person per 4sqm, and staff will be required to check every patron’s ID to ensure they’re not from Greater Melbourne.
Service Victoria QR requirements are also mandatory to check in to retail settings such as supermarkets and shops across the state.
Customers must now check in whenever they attend a venue, and the minimum of 15 minutes will no longer apply.
After only recently taking over the Wonthaggi venue, The Caly’s David Peters said the lockdown had halted the momentum they were making.
“We were just starting to establish ourselves back in the community as an option for food and beverage,” Mr Peters said.
“As far as having to check ID, for us we don’t know where the line stops or starts.
“For staff to be expected to know to that level whether someone is allowed to be here or not, I think it’s a bit much to put on them.
“But I understand the reason behind it as well, we certainly don’t want it (COVID) spreading any further or getting into the local community.”
Mr Peters said only being able to seat 50 customers also meant managing business expenses would be incredibly difficult.
“We decided to use the opportunity (lockdown) to repaint the bar,” he said.
“I’ve had to cancel up to six people off the roster that are casuals, we have entertainment booked on a Friday-Saturday night that I’ve cancelled for the next two weekends.
“I’ve cancelled the security, so the economy shrinks when you shut down to an extent, and you have to pull all your spending in as much as you can.
“It’s a flow-on effect, your staff have also got bills and expenses and unfortunately, without JobKeeper, you can’t keep them on.”
Mr Peters also added grants from the state government of $3500 were barely enough to cover the bills, let alone staff wages and rent.
Cowes wedding venue, The Shearing Shed, also had to postpone numerous weddings, and is concerned how they will be rescheduled heading towards the busy summer period.
“We had a wedding going ahead on Friday (May 28) but then the lockdown happened on Thursday,” second-in-charge Kaylah Collis said.
“We had everything ordered, all the stock, we had the cleaner in, the chef and all their fruit, vegetables and meat.
“So that was a couple thousand dollars’ worth of stock that we’ve had to wear.
“Now we’ve postponed a wedding this Saturday because it can’t go ahead because they’re from metropolitan Melbourne.
“It’s not just about the next couple of months, it’s for the next year or so, with people not being able to afford their wedding or have the quality they wanted because of this impact.”
Outdoor entertainment, seated and unseated, will have a patron cap of 50 people or 50 per cent of the venue’s seated capacity, whichever is lower.
Businesses can register their interest in the Business Costs Assistance Program at business.vic.gov.au and will be notified when applications open.
Businesses eligible for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund payment will be emailed directly by Business Victoria with a link to their grant application form.