Hospitality still suffers under third step

Gippsland South MLA Danny OBrien with Sale venue operators Jeremy Green from the Star Hotel), Chad De Lany from the Criterion Hotel), Ken Bailey, Sporting Legends, and Will Brady from Jack Ryans Irish Bar). Photo: Liam Durkin.
Gippsland South MLA Danny OBrien with Sale venue operators Jeremy Green from the Star Hotel), Chad De Lany from the Criterion Hotel), Ken Bailey, Sporting Legends, and Will Brady from Jack Ryans Irish Bar). Photo: Liam Durkin.

GIPPSLAND hospitality businesses will be condemned to another two months of tightly restricted activity that won't be enough for many to survive, according to a local MP.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O'Brien said while many residents were relieved with the relaxed restrictions under step three of the state government's 'roadmap' plan, the clamps were unfairly still on businesses - especially pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafés - with rules at odds with health advice given a few months ago.

"The decision to allow venues to serve up to 20 people indoors if they have two separate areas, as well as up to 50 outdoors, is a step in the right direction, but doesn't go far enough," Mr O'Brien said.

"Many of our venues have been virtually restricted to take away only since March and they are on their knees.

"The limits proposed are at odds with the easing of restrictions in June when pubs, restaurants and cafés could accommodate up to 20 people per space.

"Given the prevalence of coronavirus in the community is about the same now as it was then, that change in risk level has not been explained by the government."

Mr O'Brien said under the Premier's roadmap, there would be no additional change for Gippslanders before November 23, and only if the entire state could go 14 days without any new COVID-19 cases.

"That's too far away for our community and given the decreasing numbers of active cases, needs to be reviewed," Mr O'Brien said.

"The restrictions are having a massive effect, not only on our local economy, but on school children, mental health and other health outcomes, and should not be in place any day longer than strictly necessary."

Mr O'Brien encouraged people to support their local businesses that were doing it tough.

"We have seen our local businesses adapt during each stage of the restrictions imposed upon us and I have no doubt we will see the same resilience now," he said.

Mr O'Brien said local councils would actively work with hospitality to arrange require roadside permits for outdoor dining.

All stops are being pulled out for local eateries

WELLINGTON Shire Council says it will work with local cafés and restaurants to identify and facilitate outdoor dining options, and waive outdoor dining fees, as regional Victoria welcomes back dining in.

Step three of the government's 'roadmap' plan to recovery allows businesses serving food to once again provide a dine-in option, but from outdoor eating areas.

Groups of 10 are permitted, with physical distancing.

Part of the council's reactivation plan is to help the hospitality industry facilitate outdoor dining, particularly for businesses who may never have offered this service before, and assist other businesses expand their outdoor dining options.

For some, this may mean expanding dining areas along footpaths and outside-the-box thinking to use other outdoor spaces.

A council spokesperson said it was willing to look at creative solutions - including the temporary use of car parking areas and even partial road closures.

"Anything we can possibly do to assist our hospitality industry to begin trading as per the health regulations," they said.

Council support won't be limited to facilitation and smoothing red tape, with the council flagging financial support too.

The state government has announced council and business funding specifically to help with outdoor dining, with grants of up to $5000 available to help businesses pay for outdoor dining equipment such as umbrellas, outdoor furniture and screens, available via application from Friday.

Council has waived all outdoor dining fees, and has staff available to discuss businesses' needs and how council can help make the transition easier.

Business looking to serve alcohol may need extend their 'red line' to accommodate additional outdoor dining.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has confirmed it will process applications as quickly as possible.

The council spokesperson said Wellington Shire had a reputation for exceptional food and wine, and the hospitality industry was a major part of the local economy.

"Let's get Wellington re-opened for business by re-activating our local eateries and providing that great hospitality to our locals and visitors once again," they said.

For more information about state government grants, visit www.business.vic.gov.au.

For council enquiries, phone senior business development officer Geoff Hay on 5142 3043.

For more information, visit www.wellington.vic.gov.au/step3.

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