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‘Unworkable’ restrictions stop businesses from reopening despite lockdown easing

Victorian lockdown restrictions are set to ease further on June 21, but business owners in the nightlife, wedding and funeral industries say the social distancing conditions included in the easing of COVID-19 restrictions are “unworkable”.

Under the next stage of restriction easing, nightclubs may open for up to 50 seated customers per space, with maximum groups of 20. Dance floors cannot open and the four square metre per person rule must be observed.

Owner of Chasers and Inflation nightclubs, Martha Tsamis, said the restrictions mean it “is not viable” to reopen a nightclub.

“People come to our venues to socialise,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“How do you separate people?

“It’s not realistic. It’s unworkable.”

Venues caught breaching the distancing rules can be fined $10,000 and Ms Tsamis said the steep fine is not something businesses which are already under financial strain can risk.

“We’d need to turn over $100,000 to pay a $10,000 fine!,” she said.

Ms Tsamis is calling for the nightlife industry to be represented in the advisory board on restriction easing.

Currently the industry is excluded.

Press PLAY below to hear more from Ms Tsamis.

Meanwhile, the number of mourners allowed at a funeral remains at 50, but the industry says the four square metre per person rule means few venues can facilitate funerals of that size.

“Tobin Brothers has 28 chapel locations and only four of our chapels can accommodate 50 people … under that square metre rule,” managing director of Tobin Brothers, James MacLeod, told Neil Mitchell.

“You can have people together on a flight, sitting site by side, but we can’t bring our entire family together for a funeral!”

Warrandyte wedding venue owner Marianne said the wedding industry has been left reeling about the lack of clear information on the relaxation of restrictions.

“We can’t get a clear roadmap about whether we’re going to be allowed more than 20 people next week, in three months time, in six months time. It means we’re seeing a second wave of cancellations and postponements which is literally killing a billion dollar industry at the start of our season,” she told Neil Mitchell.

Press PLAY below for more on 3AW Mornings.

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