By Justin Flynn
Local cafes and restaurants are back to takeaway-only trading after Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions were reintroduced last week.
Before the restrictions were reapplied, traders could seat up to 20 patrons, but a spike in coronavirus cases in regional Victoria prompted the state government to take action.
It comes as a blow for traders, including gym owners, who were starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Ocean Grove Business Association president and Driftwood Cafe owner Ty Simons said the news was devastating for staff, patrons and owners of local businesses.
“Obviously a second lock-down is not what any of us wanted but given the increasing numbers in Vic and the possibility of local numbers going up, it is the most logical step in combating COVID-19,” he said.
“We can only feel for our friends and families in Melbourne who are doing it even tougher than us.
“This is the best time of year for this as it is traditionally the quietest time in Ocean Grove. Most businesses that partially shut last time will have a game plan ready and the changeover should be reasonably painless.
“Some businesses will have to make the difficult decision as to whether they keep their doors open or go into hibernation for the next six weeks.
“The hope is that our local community gets behind local business and supports us through these times. The town rallied around small business with a great ‘buy local’ response last time and we can only hope that this continues.”
Caron Zillwood from Ocean Grove’s Zebra Bar said the news “hit hard”.
“At Zebra we worked extremely hard to provide an enjoyable and safe dining experience since reopening in June,” she said.
“Customers have loved being able to dine-in. We appreciate everyone’s support. Table service and the safety measures meant employing and training new young staff.
“Regrettably, as we move back to takeaway only, hours for those staff will be substantially reduced. But Stage 3 will end. We have a fantastic new team. We have a very supportive community. We will reopen again.”
Jak Evans, who manages The Dunes and At the Heads said it was disappointing, but inevitable.
“We are obviously very disappointed to be heading back into further restrictions, although we understand it is clearly the only way forward,” he said.
“We are hopeful that all Victorians will make good decisions during this time which will enable a very restriction-free and busy summer in which all can enjoy the beauty of our region.”