• Loddon Herald

10-cap keeps take-away

STRICT indoor dining caps for regional Victoria coming out of Lockdown 7.0 have seen some Loddon businesses stick with take-away service only.

Hospitality business owners say the 10-people cap is restrictive and adds another layer of compliance for dine-in meals.

Dee Slatter, who with cousin Lindee Frost has been running Boort’s Godfrey and Bear since January 2020, said: “We have opened up fully after every previous lockdown but this time, we find the numbers do not make that feasible.”

Dee said older patrons liked to sit and have their coffee while chatting with friends “and we don’t want to be moving them on when more customers arrive”.

“When it was hinted that regional towns would be coming out of lockdown, we thought the cap would be 24 or so people ... 10 is just ridiculous,” she said.

Dee said that after more than 18 months trading, her staff knew nothing different from “juggling coming in and out of lockdowns”.

Anne McDonald, of the Korong Vale Hotel, echoed the comments of Dee for hospitality businesses trying to trade within the new cap.

“It’s hard ... to have just 10 people inside is just ridiculous,” she said.

Anne at the weekend tried offering two sittings for dinner but found no interest from patrons for an earlier time.

“No one wants to be having dinner at the first sitting but the second is booked out,” she said.

“I don’t think it is going to be viable for dining in.”

Most hotels across the Loddon have also decided to stick with take-away meals only while the 10-people cap remains.

They are hoping the next level of eased restrictions from the beginning of October will increase the indoor cap.

Anne said: “We’re allowed 20 people in the outdoor areas but until the weather warms up more, people are not too keen sitting outside on cool nights.”

Under current restrictions, hotels and cafes must also confirm a person is not a resident of metropolitan Melbourne or Greater Shepparton.

Venues are also responsible for ensuring visitors use the Service Victoria QR code app to check in regardless of duration of visit.

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