COVID-19 restrictions have eased under Step Three of the State Government’s roadmap to recovery, however hospitality businesses are affected in various ways.
New rules state restaurants/cafes/ pubs, etc, can seat a maximum of 20 people indoors at any one time with those 20 split into groups of 10. Outdoor dining is recommended with a cap of 50 patrons.
These rules don’t work for everyone.
Orbost Club manager, Stef Coote, said she was happy the club could reopen and that the new restrictions were heading in the right direction, but she could understand why it couldn’t go back to the 20 patrons per room as it was when the restrictions first lifted in June.
“It would have been good to go back to 20 in each room rather than 10,” she said.
“Why are we being punished when we have done the hard work and had no cases here?
“Our venue can seat close to 200 people in total and we are only allowed 20 at this point. We don’t have the option to offer outside dining unless our patrons want to sit in the car park and we don’t think they would want to, plus if we were to set that up, restrictions would be just as likely to have eased further by then.”
Ms Coote said more notice would have helped businesses prepare – Step Three restrictions came into place less than a week after Step Two was implemented.
“Obviously they knew it was coming that they were going to open us up further, but why couldn’t they have given us the heads up?” she said.
As the club did not have enough time to get stock in and prepare for the reopening, it has delayed opening until this week.
At the bottom pub, owner of the Club Hotel, Tim Behan, raised concerns about whether it would be profitable to reopen.
“It is really hard to manage with the limits of 10 people inside per room,” he said.
“Thank goodness for JobKeeper and grants from both state and federal governments, otherwise we would have been shut. JobKeeper will be very handy as we navigate out of this but I do have concerns about it coming to an end in March as we are heading into winter and March is our last hoorah of decent weather with tourists still visiting. We will navigate that when the time comes.”
Mr Behan said he is happy to reopen again and was slowly easing into the recommencement of meals.
“We needed the extra time to prepare the kitchen and get orders in with suppliers after being shut,” he said.
Russell Bates, from the Marlo Hotel, said pubs like his that had multiple large indoor areas, should be able to utilise them as a means of safely catering for customers and being viable.
“If we are limited to outdoor service only, it would be a massive restriction to us being able to operate and each day would be very weather dependent. We need more security than that,” he said.
Orbost Club manager, Stef Coote, says while it is nice to reopen the doors to patrons, current COVID-19 restrictions limit the dining service.