Pub owners are threatening to ignore coronavirus restrictions, claiming the industry is struggling to survive the pandemic.
In Victoria pubs and clubs will be able to serve drinks for up to 50 people seated without a meal from Monday.
But venue owners claim the rollback is not enough to help them bounce-back after the lockdown in March, which saw all hospitality venues close in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A bar tender serves beer to patrons as they await their meals at the Young & Jackson pub in Melbourne on June 1
Locals Taryn and Piper enjoy a beer and a meal at the Middle Park Hotel in Middle Park in Melbourne on June 1
Save Our Pubs spokesman Rabhi Yannie said venues around the state will band together for a pub protest if they continue to be ignored.
‘The situation is terminal and getting worse. As an industry, we will have no choice but to ignore the current rules,’ Save Our Pubs spokesman Rabhi Yannie said.
‘We don’t want to break the law or risk fines, however, the precedent has been set by this government when people break the law as a collective.’
Melbourne’s nightclub Love Machine at Prahran was fined $9,913 on Saturday for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
Victorian premier Dan Andrews has faced intense criticism throughout the coronavirus crisis from the hospitality industry over the ‘arbitrary limit’ on venue patrons.
Mr Andrews has been labelled ‘Chairman Dan’ by the state’s Liberal Party Opposition for what they claim are his draconian COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Chinese leaders were known as chairman until 1982 when the word president was used instead.
Last month, Mr Andrews banned white-collar workers from returning to their offices and threatened fines for any boss who ignores the rules.
In Victoria, only hospitality venues that offer dining are permitted to open such as restaurants, cafes and the bistro area of pubs. Other hospitality businesses such as bars, live music venues and areas of pubs where food is not served are not permitted to reopen
Small hospitality venues have been able to reopen while larger businesses have been forced to remain closed
Struggling pub owners are threatening to ignore coronavirus restrictions, claiming the limit of patrons is making it hard to survive the pandemic
Victorian restaurants, cafes and hospitality businesses have only been allowed 20 seated patrons per enclosed space, irrespective of their size and ability to accommodate more people based on the one person per four square metre rule.
This is far less than NSW, which has had more COVID-19 cases, but allows up to 50 per eating space – and up to 500 in one indoor venue.
While smaller businesses have begun reopening in Victoria, larger businesses have been forced to remain closed as overheads are too high to cater low guest numbers.
Critics have slammed Andrews tough approach, claiming it is leading to a deeper recession in Victoria than other states.
Mr O’Donnell said 12 businesses have already shut down and the precinct could lose hundreds more
The Chapel Street precinct is more than four kilometres long and runs through four of Melbourne’s trendy suburbs
Justin O’Donnell, Chairperson of Chapel Street Precinct Association, which represents more than 2,200 businesses, said the ‘one size fits all’ capacity regulation could see 20 to 30 per cent of the area’s largest employers permanently shut down.
‘Our State Government’s one size fits all approach does not work financially for many Chapel Street Precinct businesses, particularly many of our larger businesses that are some of our precinct’s largest employers, ‘ he said.
‘We are asking for those Chapel Street Precinct businesses that have a larger space (square footage) for limit numbers to be based on their areas available, while maintaining the one metre by four metre rule. The issue is the number cap that has been stamped for all businesses regardless of the size.’
The Chapel Street Precinct Association is calling on Victorian premier Dan Andrews (pictured) to amend capacity restrictions to reflect the one person per four metre rule so it is financially viable for large businesses to open
Melbourne’s Chapel Street precinct (pictured) is home to more than 2200 businesses, many of which are struggling to survive under the 20 patron capacity rule
‘This is now starting to look like lazy policy making and it is time for this to be reviewed urgently. This will help save many of our largest local employers and desperately help them reopen with numbers that are economically viable.’
While Victoria readies for its next step to normality, nine new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded on Tuesday, bringing the state’s infection tally to 1741.
Of these, two cases were linked to a known outbreak at Monash Health while one was associated with an extended family cluster in Coburg.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the Monash Health outbreak had increased to six cases after a patient and health care worker recently tested positive.
A Monash Health spokesperson on Monday said close contacts were identified and placed in quarantine but no services have closed following the incident.
The extended family cluster has grown to 12 cases after they had gatherings across homes in Coburg, Broadmeadows and Pakenham.
Four of the family members to test positive are children who attended two different schools in Melbourne, prompting their closure for cleaning and contact tracing.
Another positive case recorded on Tuesday was a school student at Strathmore Primary School.
The school will remain closed on Tuesday while cleaning and contact tracing is underway.
Despite the recent increase in new cases, Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Monday remained confident restrictions will be eased next week.