While Melburnians rejoiced on Monday after Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews ended the city’s lockdown and allowed hospitality venues to reopen, industry leaders fear the majority of pubs will remain shut.
President of the Victorian branch of the Australian Hotels Association David Canny told 3AW he feared up to 70 per cent of pubs won’t open from Wednesday as the limited numbers venues can welcome back won’t be financially viable.
“We are still very concerned about the restrictions that are going to be placed on hospitality and whether it is really viable to open,” he said.
Mr Andrews announced retail outlets, cafes, restaurants and pubs would be able to reopen, subject to patron limits, from 11.59pm on Tuesday.
Outdoor limits of 50 patrons and an indoor limit of 20, subject to density limits, apply for hospitality venues.
In a statement Mr Canny said the state government needed to have “greater trust” in the industry to implement a COVID-safe plan.
"There are inconsistencies among other industry sectors whereby some retail stores do not have any caps on patron numbers or customer digital contact tracing,” he said.
He said an AHA model of one patron per four square metres that is used across other states in Australia should be adopted.
Mr Andrews announced on Monday restrictions would be eased further on November 8 when the outdoor capacity moves to 70 and the indoor maximum to 40.
Reopening plans ‘a pipe dream’
Representatives of the Chapel Street entertainment precinct also raised concerns it won't be viable for half of their businesses to reopen under the plan's density quotas.
"The density quotas will need to be eased as quickly as possible in order to make it financially viable," precinct chairperson Justin O'Donnell said.
"It's a pipe dream to think that many of our businesses can simply move to outdoor trading."
But Paul Guerra, chief executive of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which represents 47,000 members, said there was a sense of optimism among businesses after Mr Andrews' announcement.
"The government has clearly listened to the pleas from business," he said.
"Although there are some restrictions on hospitality, it's only a short wait until those limits will be increased."
Sigh of relief for retail and tourism
The Australian Retailers Association says it is relieved retail restrictions have been lifted in Victoria.
“It’s been a long haul for Victorians and businesses, and particularly hard on small to medium business retailers,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra said.
Under step two on November 8, the 25km individual travel restriction and "ring of steel" separating regional Victoria from Melbourne will be lifted.
"The state's tourism industry is breathing a sigh of relief, now that we have a clear date for when the people of greater Melbourne will be free to travel to regional Victoria," Victoria Tourism Industry Council CEO Felicia Mariani said.
"Importantly, our beloved city can finally re-animate ... with our cafes, restaurants, bars and retail able to get back to business and back to doing what they love."
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