By Justin Flynn
A last-minute decision by the state government to abort its plan to allow restaurants and cafes to seat 50 patrons has frustrated some local business owners.
Just days before the restriction was due to be eased to allow up to 50 diners in venues from June 22 , Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the 20-person limit would remain due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne.
The Sharp Group’s Lyndsay Sharp said the decision was “devastating on so many levels”.
Ms Sharp was planning to reopen Flying Brick Cider House, Jack Rabbit and Leura Park Estate on June 22, but was forced to abandon her plans. She said she understood the rationale behind the decision.
“Menus had been created, food had been ordered and pre-prepping commenced, venues had been set up to suit the 50 capacity and rosters were done,” she said.
“The pathway was set towards getting back on track as fully operational and with as many people as possible back to their normal working hours. Bookings were strong and everyone was looking forward to welcoming patrons back.”
Ms Sharp said it was not viable for larger venues, such as Flying Brick, to reopen with a 20-customer limit.
“The 50 patron capacity was the benchmark for reopening across the board,” she said.
“The impact of the decision is huge for us.
“It was also heartbreaking for our teams to have to contact patrons and advise them that their bookings were not to be.
“The decision impacts on our suppliers as well – fresh supplies due to be delivered last Monday had to be cancelled, various services suspended once more, the list goes on.”
Jak Evans was looking forward to reopening The Dunes Cafe.
“We understand that the safety of staff and customers is of the utmost importance although we were obviously disappointed not to be opening up and doing what we love,” he said.
“We were more disappointed in the timing of the decision as we had made a significant investment in stock, staff training and a number of other requirements in preparation for the Monday which is now largely lost. This could have been avoided if a decision had been made earlier in the week.
“For The Dunes, it isn’t viable to open for 20 customers at a time, so we have remained closed with the intention of opening to the anticipated 50 guest limit.
“It is a really difficult time for casual staff who aren’t eligible for JobKeeper and are really keen to get back to work.”