BENDIGO'S favourite eateries have urged the community to take up COVID-19 vaccination, saying it is the only path out of lockdowns for their struggling businesses.
Hustler, Gajin, and Ghosty Toasty are among businesses calling on Bendigo residents to book their jabs, to bring back some sort of normality sooner.
Hustler and Flight Bar co-owner Justin McPhail said the sooner people got vaccinated, the sooner they could get back into restaurants.
He said the sooner this happened, the sooner his staff could get their jobs back, and spend money at other venues.
Mr McPhail said 20-25 staff at the two eateries were currently rostered on just eight hours a week, while sales were down 95 per cent from the previous week, pre-lockdown.
"Everybody's hurting because we're all locked down," he said.
"We all need to get in there and get it done, and then we can get out and enjoy ourselves again."
Health authorities have repeatedly urged Victorians to get vaccinated as soon as they could.
Recent modelling showed that very high vaccine coverage was the only way to avoid high death tolls from COVID-19 or indefinite restrictions.
For Ghosty Toasty owner Nick Styles getting the jab came down to what it meant for other people.
But he also said he couldn't keep doing the "whack-a-mole" style lockdowns as a COVID-19 response forever.
Mr Styles said he understood people's trepidation, but what convinced him was reading comparisons between Australia and places such as Florida with low vaccination rates and soaring COVID-19 deaths.
"I'm not prepared to put the elderly at risk and the vulnerable. It's people like us who are healthy that need to step up and do it," he said.
Bendigo Tourism chair Finn Vedelsby urged everyone to take up vaccination against COVID-19, saying it was time to ask how to bring the world back to normal.
Mr Vedelsby said his business had endured seven lockdowns, cut off from its biggest source of income, Melbourne, for more than 200 days since March 2020.
He said staff were living with uncertainty about whether or not they would have a job tomorrow, alongside fears their parents or children would get ill.
Mr Vedelsby said it was vital to get vaccination numbers up, so Bendigo could return to normal soon.
"The best vaccine for you is one that you can get today," he said.
"It's time to stop being reactive, and be proactive. And every jab counts."
Gajin and Tageskarte owner Matt Murray said everyone wanted to get back into venues, but the best way to do that was to stay home and get vaccinated.
Mr Murray said it was getting harder to make takeaway sales during lockdown, as many people were out of work and on tight budgets.
He said his staff were struggling to pay rent and bills on reduced hours.
"If we get people back in town, retail shops opened up again, back in their offices, then hospitality will boom again," Mr Murray said.
"The sure way to get to that is to be vaccinated and do what we're asked to do."
Peaches Cafe owner Brittany Clinch said her pre-existing takeaway-only model meant she'd escaped the worst of the lockdown hardship hitting other hospitality businesses.
But Miss Clinch said the sooner the community got vaccinated, the sooner everyone could get back to normal.
"We want to see our friends on the street, the other businesses open back up. We want to see the theatre and the gallery open up again," she said.
"The sooner we can get it done, the sooner that can happen, and Bendigo can be back open again."
Central Victorians can register for a vaccine on the Bendigo Health website.
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