THE City of Greater Bendigo is hoping lighter COVID-19 restrictions will help boost the region's flagging hospitality and tourism sector.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday confirmed regional Victorians would move to the third step of the roadmap to reopening from 11.59pm on Wednesday.
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Margaret O'Rourke said residents in regional Victoria would be "thrilled" with the news.
"The majority of our community has worked so hard to get to where we are today," she said. "We had sometimes up to 57 cases with those outbreaks. It was on our doorstep.
Read more news:
"But I think we all got a taste and understood how quickly things can change. So it just means that we have to continue to be strong in our focus. But it shows that people have really worked hard."
Among the changes will be an easing of restrictions in the hospitality sector.
From 11.59pm on Wednesday, dine-in services can resume at restaurants and cafes in regional Victoria. This will predominantly be outdoor seated service, with groups capped at 10 people and density limits.
Cr O'Rourke said while reopening would "mean a lot" for businesses, there were still some concerns.
"From my feedback with talking to lots of businesses, they're worried about the stop-start," she said.
"We're really hopeful that this will be a way forward and we can learn to live with the COVID restrictions going forward so we don't have those stop-starts.
"It's not just for business, but it's for our community as a whole because they want to be able to support the businesses in a safe way too.
"So having all of the grants that are available is really great but it's nothing better than doing business as normally as you can."
Regional Victorians will also be allowed to leave their homes for any reason under the third step.
This means travel within regional Victoria can resume, although people will not be able to travel to areas with higher restrictions.
Cr O'Rourke said that could boost the struggling tourism sector.
"I think regional Victorians now have the green light to be able to move in and about other parts of regional Victoria in a safe way," she said.
"I'm sure there will be lots of businesses that will be really excited to think that people are going to be coming back and investing.
"I know our moteliers will be really pleased about that because their numbers of bookings for accommodation have been so low.
"They had a great program only a couple of weeks ago about buy now, stay later. So that really might start to take off for them as well."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.