“I welcome the lifting of lockdown restrictions in regional Victoria today, allowing us to take the first step back to normal.

“But the restrictions in place for many businesses are no better than being in lockdown. It makes no sense for restaurants, cafes and pubs that could usually sit hundreds of people inside to be limited to just 10 inside and 20 outside.

“Businesses tell me that they can operate their COVID safe plans under the per patron square metre rules but the capping is impossible.

“Many businesses in Indi have reported they will not re-open under these constraints, and we have not been given any indication of how long these restrictions will go on for.

“We have seen in the past that restaurants, cafes and pubs have been able to open safely while welcoming more customers than the current limit, and we can do that again. The Victorian Government must find a sensible solution that keeps people safe and allows businesses to re-open.

“The Victorian Government must also reconsider the border permit system and the limitation on reasons to cross the border for those in the border bubble. It is hard enough with a different set of rules on each side of the border, adding an extra layer of requirements makes it almost impossible to keep up with and abide by the rules.

“Limiting the reasons to cross the border means businesses that are already struggling to make ends meet under the restrictions are further limited in who they can accept as customers. It means a family can go out for a meal in Wodonga, but if one member of the family lives in Albury, they can’t come.

These limits mean people on the border are out of lockdown in name only, but in reality are still under harsh restrictions. It is possible to make changes that keep people safe and allow our businesses to function, and the Government must act and soon.”

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