By Justin Flynn
Local cafe and restaurant owners are pleading with members of the public to stop abusing their staff when they ask for ID.
Some patrons have been so vile that staff have been reduced to tears.
The latest lockdown laws mean that people are forbidden from being more than 5km from their home. Regional Victorians joined their Melburnian counterparts in lockdown on Saturday, but that hasn’t prevented people from travelling to the Bellarine from other areas of the state.
The Sharp Group’s Lyndsay Sharp said her staff, from venues such as Flying Brick, Leura Park Estate, Jack Rabbit and Curlewis Golf Club, had been subjected to “seriously vile” abuse for asking for ID, which is a government requirement.
“Overall, it ranges from apparently ‘entitled’ patrons through to abuse and aggression complete with every swear word under the sun,” she said.
“It is extremely confronting and distressing for staff. We’ve had instances where people with no ID, or Melbourne ID, have literally thrown a local supermarket docket at staff and said “there, that proves I’m local”.
“What a joke those people are thinking they can patronise and demean a hardworking and proud industry like that.”
Ms Sharp said that 95% or patrons were “delightful and respectful of whatever rules are in place at any given time”.
“They arrive with their QR registration ready to be confirmed and their ID out,” she said.
“We never budge in our response. People are refused entry if they do not comply with the rules in place, do not have ID, refuse to QR register, refuse to sign a statutory declaration, which entails a $19,000 fine for misinformation, if they don’t have ID, or abuse staff.
“Hospitality has been having a hard enough time simply trying to survive. The attitude and actions of these patrons is horrible and demoralising when we are simply following the rules to keep our workplace, team, patrons and community COVID safe.”
Ms Sharp said ignorance could not be used as an excuse.
“We have been taking the front foot and texting all patrons to remind them that they are not permitted entry without regional ID,” she said.
“Patrons are also reminded about any current restrictions and regulations prior to arrival via numerous platforms – by phone, by text, via social media, via website booking platforms, via email confirmation.
“When patrons arrive, they literally cannot claim ignorance with respect to the rules which makes it even more frustrating when the vitriol starts.”
Queenscliff’s 360Q mine host Barry Iddles said it was a government requirement that guests show identification before entering a restaurant and any restaurant or cafe in regional Victoria and that the fine was $10,000 for businesses that did not comply.
“We have suffered enough during this pandemic, please do not make our team suffer anymore,” he said.
“Our aim is to look after our guests, with amazing food and service, whilst maintaining a sanitized and safe environment for everyone. It is my job to ensure I provide my team with a safe and happy workplace, ensuring I look after their mental health.”
Ocean Grove’s Driftwood Cafe owner Ty Simons said he was “turning at least three tables away every day from Melbourne” before regional Victoria went into lockdown.