BENDIGO hoteliers hope to be able to serve more patrons soon, as they plan to lobby government for locally eased restrictions.
Hotel owners will meet on Tuesday to discuss plans to lobby the Victorian government to ease restrictions in Greater Bendigo earlier than in Melbourne.
Hotel Shamrock owner Ray Sharawara said the industry in Bendigo could only be saved by easing restrictions on hospitality businesses.
The Victorian government recently pushed back loosening restrictions for hospitality businesses in response to a spike of COVID-19 cases in parts of Melbourne.
These changes would have allowed venues to serve 50 patrons.
Instead they are still limited to 20 patrons, with a four square metre limit per person.
Mr Sharawara said Bendigo publicans wanted special consideration, given the low number of cases in the region.
He said the group would highlight to government the important employment pubs and hotels provided for people in Bendigo.
"We believe in Bendigo we generate a weekly payroll in excess of $1 million per week prior to the COVID-19 restrictions," Mr Sharawara said.
"We also believe that we're the hardest hit in the region, as employees and employers as well.
"Everyone associated with hospitality and tourism is suffering exactly the same."
Mr Sharawara said Bendigo's low case numbers were grounds for special consideration for publicans.
He said testing, identification of clusters, and isolation were paramount.
"We know that this is a contagious disease. We know that, we're aware of it," Mr Sharawa said.
"We believe strongly that we have to learn to live with it. So those measures, yes we agree with them, yes there is a risk, but we believe it's a balanced risk we must take.
"We as an industry will conform with all of the rules and regulations that are put in place."
Mr Sharawara said publicans would like the change implemented immediately.
He said all he could see was doom and gloom for hoteliers otherwise.
"People will close their businesses and close their doors," he said.
Mr Sharawara said the hoteliers would also lobby the City of Greater Bendigo for rate and fee relief.
He said the group planned to call on the federal government for an extension of the JobKeeper scheme beyond September.
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