“Turn around and go home”: Shepparton dining venues shut to metro Melbourne customers

By Charmayne Allison

Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire residents flouting COVID-19 restrictions will now be turned away by Greater Shepparton dining venues.

This new measure comes after Mitchell Shire and metropolitan Melbourne were locked down at midnight Wednesday in efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Authorities said business owners could undertake checks by asking customers where they lived or using other "reasonable efforts".

Local restaurant and cafe owners will still need to record the names and phone numbers of customers and staff who stay longer than 15 minutes for contact tracing purposes.

Shepparton RSL is leading the way, announcing Thursday that all members and guests would have to present valid photo identification to gain entry.

While the club often attracts guests from nearby Mitchell Shire and RSL members from Melbourne, general manager Grant Tarrant said he hadn't noticed many customers from those areas in recent weeks.

“I don't think this will be much of an issue, but we want to have this in place just in case,” Mr Tarrant said.

He said each guest would be checked on a "case by case" basis.

“Nothing is black and white,” he said.

“There will be people who live and work in the region but haven't updated their licences.

“We also have a lot of customers who are working on the Shepparton Art Museum who are from Melbourne.

“If required, people will be asked to supply additional documentation.”

Shepparton Brewery owner Daina Winch said the restaurant already had a QR code system in place for customers to submit their name, number and postcode for contact tracing purposes.

However, she said this was the first she had heard of the new requirements.

“Even when I tried to search online, it wasn't an easy task to find the information. But of course we'll follow the guidelines,” she said.

“We can't force customers to tell us where they're from. But we'll do everything in our power to ask and just hope people will tell us the truth.”

Mr Tarrant said anyone who had travelled up from lock-down areas would be told to "turn around and go home".

“By coming here, they are potentially putting everyone at risk,” he said.

“People like that will make it impossible for us to go back to any sort of normality.”

While business owners will not be fined for unintentionally serving customers from areas under Stage 3 restrictions, they must make "reasonable efforts" to deny access to residents who live in these areas.

Individual customers who fail to comply with these directions could face on-the-spot fines of up to $1652 from Victoria Police or up to $20,000 through the court system.

Community members can raise concerns about compliance with directions through the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444.

Workers can raise concerns via WorkSafe on 9641 1555.

Employers can talk to their industry regulator or peak body for specific industry-related support.