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Tinamba Hotel

Compensation calls

Compensation calls

Tinamba Hotel

Gippsland hospitality and tourism hit hard in lockdown

Gippslanders are enjoying more freedom this morning after Victoria's statewide 'circuit-breaker' lockdown came to an end at midnight.

Most restrictions imposed last Friday have been lifted. The four reasons to leave home have been stripped, along with the five kilometre travel limit.

However not everything returns to the COVID-normal of last Friday. Visitors in the home have been reduced to five and masks are still on inside all public spaces, as well as outside where social distancing cannot take place.

Meanwhile, there are calls for small business operators to be compensated after being heavily impacted by the lockdown.

Tinamba Hotel owner, Simon Johnson, says the Valentine's Day weekend was a bad one to miss out on trade, but he is looking forward to reopening today.

"There was definitely a lot of waste.

"It would have been great to have a local body to be connected with that we could have donated some of that food to, so there's no food wastage.

"Unfortunately, being such a short time frame, there was thousands of dollars worth of food that went in the bin.

"It also has these other longer lingering affects, that people cancel their other upcoming bookings because they don't know what's going on.

"During the week, we've had people cancel their bookings for this weekend because they didn't know if they can or can't make it.

"We've reopened again but we're missing out on bookings because of the uncertainty these quick lockdowns have," Simon said.

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Traralgon Vineyard Owner Leon Hammond agrees, and he says the industry needs local support now.

"The thing for this weekend is that people need to book today," Leon said.

"Cafes and restaurants get stock between now and the weekend. So if people are thinking about this weekend, please, I urge them to call today, to give those cafes and restaurants a chance to stock up for the weekend."

With the relief that the latest lockdown lasted only five days, comes heartbreak for local businesses that could not operate during the period.

Owner of Nungurner's Jetty Road Retreat, Kim Kleinitz, who lost lost around $8,000 revenue in that short time, believes regional areas should have been separated from the metro areas that had the Covid outbreaks.

"I think with every lockdown it just gets harder and harder to really trust that the government has our back, and that they want to see small businesses succeed," Kim said.

"We really need and deserve a different strategy."

Kim is encouraging locals to still make holiday bookings, saying the next few months will be crucial for so many. And she suggests people book directly with operators, not through third party sites that take some of the money.

"I really encourage people to book directly because there's so much more flexibility to refund or reschedule dates if people can't travel because of restrictions.

"Right through to the third week of April we have solid bookings, so it would be nothing short of disheartening of those bookings can't proceed after what we've all endured, especially here in East Gippsland," Kim said.

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