By Luke Voogt
Cafes, pubs and restaurants across Geelong reopened on Wednesday as COVID-19 restrictions eased across Victoria.
Telegraph Hotel owner of 15 years Sam Longo was pleased to welcome customers back.
“We’re always happy to reopen – that’s who we are and what we do,” he said.
He thanked Geelong locals for supporting his venue and the hospitality sector in general.
“The support is there, it really is. The people are fantastic and really understanding of the tribulations we’ve been through.
”We’ve already got 100 booked for Sunday lunch and we’ve got to be careful to keep them separate.”
But the amount, the maximum for indoor venues under new restrictions, was well short of the hotel’s pre-COVID capacity of 300 people, he said.
Mr Longo warned that threat of further lockdowns and the effort involved in repetitively closing and reopening at short notice would likely make life very tough for the sector for at least another few months.
“There are so many venues that wouldn’t be open today,” he on Wednesday.
“It just doesn’t happen in 24 hours.”
Fishermen’s Pier managing director Paul Ramia said business had been slow initially following the easing of restrictions.
“It’s been pretty difficult because it takes a good couple of weeks to get the momentum going, and to give the patrons a bit of confidence,” he said.
“Mind you, we’ve had quite a few bookings for the weekend. It will be good to get some local support.”
Restrictions now allow restaurants and cafes open for seated service for a maximum of 100 costumers with a group limit of 10 and a density limit of one person per four square metres.