BUSINESSES are preparing to reopen their doors tomorrow as restrictions ease in regional Victoria.
However, while ‘general retail’ businesses have a density quotient of one person per 4sqm, hospitality is limited to 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors.
Some hospitality businesses say it’s just not worth reopening and will instead continue providing takeaway only until it’s viable.
Yesterday, Premier Daniel Andrews said it wasn’t a “snap back” in regional Victoria.
“It’s not freedom day,” he said.
Nationals MP Melina Bath said some businesses had told her the limits weren’t sustainable.
“Gippsland small business owners are seriously hurting and are understandably distressed about their future and that of their staff,” Ms Bath said.
“Labor needs to give our struggling hospitality businesses some hope by giving us a plan to properly reopen.”
Shadow Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Steph Ryan said many pubs and clubs had told her in the past 24 hours the “meaningless easing” gave them no choice but to stay closed for the foreseeable future.
“This is not a plan to reopen. It’s a cruel blow to regional hospitality businesses who hoped they would be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Ms Ryan said.
“Allowing a maximum of up to 30 patrons is a fraction of the capacity of many venues that would normally seat hundreds of diners at any given time.
“Pubs and clubs have detailed COVID Safe plans and practices in place to keep patrons and staff safe.
“The chopping and changing again of restrictions is devastating to hospitality businesses that are already struggling to stay afloat.”
Many hospitality venues have already made the hard decision to cut back opening hours and staffing numbers.
This week’s restriction changes have been described as “mind-boggling” and “meaningless” by some venue operators.
“A 30-person capacity is a kick in the guts to venues that have been operating at a fraction of their capacity for 18 months now,” Ms Ryan said.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) chief executive Felicia Mariani said regional Victoria derives 80 per cent of its visitor spend from Melburnians travelling in their own backyard.
“While some business will naturally come from regional Victorians travelling to other regions, and this will surely be welcomed by our struggling regional operators, the reality is that this will be a significant decline from normal visitation patterns. Many businesses will be seriously considering the viability of re-opening,” Ms Mariani said.
“Ongoing support is vital given their businesses simply cannot reactivate fully when Melburnians form such a critical part of their visitation mix.
“I know from conversations I’ve had with key regional attractions that without participation from their key source market, the separate reopening of regional Victoria was unable to arrest business decline.
“And let’s remember here, the upcoming school holidays look to again be in serious jeopardy, further diminishing the pace of any recovery for our state’s visitor economy.”