Unworkable patron caps leave hospitality industry cooked

Gippsland’s restaurant and pub owners are angry and frustrated by the Andrews Government’s density caps imposed on the hospitality industry.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath believes thousands of regional hospitality businesses will remain shut today, leaving many casual staff still out of work due to the unworkable rules imposed by Daniel Andrews.

Regional hospitality businesses can only open with 10 patrons inside and 20 seated outside – a fraction of the capacity of many venues.

“Daniel Andrews is living in a bureaucratic fantasy land if he thinks these restrictions delivered good news for our regional hospitality providers – many said the Premier was pedalling false hope.

“One local restaurant owner said with the pending announcement of restrictions easing, his phone rang off the hook and he took bookings for 102 people for Saturday evening, permitted under previous density quotas.

“It is gut wrenching for businesses to realise they are only allowed 10 people inside their large well-spaced venues – in many cases it’s not a viable operating model.

“Pubs, restaurants and cafes have detailed COVID safe plans and practices in place to keep patrons and staff safe.

“The chopping and changing of restrictions are devastating hospitality businesses already struggling to stay afloat.

“Businesses want the state government to release the specific health advice that says only 10 people inside a hospitality venue is safe.

“They also want to know why density limits are suddenly out for restaurants, pubs and cafes, but are acceptable for all other businesses”

Many hospitality venues have already made the hard decision to cut back opening hours and staffing numbers – keeping many casual employees out of work.

Ms Bath said the capacity limit is a kick in the guts to venues that have been operating at a fraction of their capacity for 18 months now.

“The Andrews Labor Government’s unworkable rules have delivered no hope and no plan for regional hospitality businesses.

“This is just another cruel blow to regional pubs and clubs by a Premier who doesn’t care about the damage his Labor Government’s iron-fisted approach is inflicting on regional Victoria.

“The Andrews Government must allow the hospitality industry to trade using patron density limits and deliver a more workable, viable and fair-trading solution.”