The region's hospitality venues are facing challenges affecting their staffing levels as prepare for a busy summer period.
Mackenzie Quarters and Ms Batterhams owner Rhianwen Seiter said constant and quick changing rules and regulations relating to the pandemic had left many restaurants and cafes short staffed.
"A few venues were caught off guard with the rapid change in regard to vaccinated," she said. "We were lucky and still had enough to run and operate the business.
"Now we are finding testing times and time taken waiting for results is a problem."
Ms Seiter said as the state government shifts its focus away from getting to zero cases and moves to living with COVID, the reasons for testing will be limited to symptomatic people and people who have been to exposure sites.
"We understand that is going to change but it is at an in-between stage and that's why we feel short staffed," she said. "As small a business that's tricky, we don't have hundreds staff working.
"The challenge for the hospitality sector is living and working with the COVID challenges. We will always have staff being tested but patrons are also cancelling if they have to get tested.
"With rapid-antigen testing coming in, we are exploring it a solution for us and wondering if that will be the industry standard. It's about how we adapt and find a routine to the situation."
The hospitality sector in the Bendigo region was busy this weekend as Melbourne visitors travelled for the first time in months.
Redesdale Hotel owner Garth Campbell said the pub was looking short staffed as their casual workers looked to reuniting with families in Melbourne.
A call to the local community results in volunteers stepping in to help run plates, scrub pots and serve customers.
"It's been a juggling act. We have regular staff doing other things like going away seeing family, one is not double vaccinated and one is doing nursing. It's a mixed bag," he said.
"Casual staff have the right to make themselves unavailable. We don't begrudge them that. It's not until you sit down with the rosters and realise you have no one available for Sunday that you see it," he said.
"Our bookings have been unbelievable, it's a tidal wave people. When we put call out, about 30 people got in touch and said they could run plates.
"There was a bit of a mad scramble. But loads of people who know us or worked for us in past offered to give us a give a hand. We were really grateful for the offers of assistance, it was overwhelming."
Ms Seiter said this time of year saw more opportunities for jobs in the hospitality industry but that finding the right people for roles was tricky.
"It's always tricky to find experienced hospitality staff in Bendigo. I don't think that's a new thing," she said.
"One of the things our industry (in Bendigo) is exploring is some sort of casual pool (of hospitality workers) we can draw upon. I'm sure we can work together to lift the industry. We have been through enough closures. We don't want that in the future."
Looking ahead, Ms Seiter said many venues were already booking up for Christmas functions.
"We are all geared up the end of the year," she said. "We have our function and wedding space returning and can see from the events calendar and bookings, we are not the only ones thinking things are returning normal.
"Our Saturdays are booked out for the rest of the year in our events space and people are already booking for small gatherings. It's definitely looking like a busy to end the year.
"We are hoping given Bendigo is listed as UNESCO City of Gastronomy that the region will be a bit more on map as a city who has a thriving hospitality industry.
"With Victoria opening up and the borders coming down to allow more travel, we are optimistic."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: