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‘World of pain’ for some Shepparton businesses despite step three

By Spencer Fowler Steen

The news regional Victoria will reopen to step three has been met with mixed reactions from businesses in Greater Shepparton, with some labelling the announcement as "smoke and mirrors".

From Thursday, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, with cafes, restaurants and pubs seating up to 50 people outdoors.

People will be able to travel within Victoria except for areas with higher restrictions, and up to five visitors from one other household will be permitted.

Shepparton’s Shane Sali, a long-time retailer in Maude St, said it had been a challenging time for many local businesses.

“The latest news is a really positive step,” he said.

“People will now be able to socialise more freely, be able to dine in at our hospitality venues which will then encourage spring/summer clothes shopping.

“We need to keep moving forward and this is a start.”

Woolshed owner Angela Mangiameli said the relaxation would allow them to reopen for dinners and lunches on weekends.

“We're very excited to be re-inventing The Woolshed yet again, for the second time this year,” she said.

“We are doing this to keep open, to be able to offer some casual hours back to the staff that have not worked with us for several months, to allow locals to come out of there homes and enjoy some social interaction, great food and to wash it all down with some bevies.”

But some Shepparton businesses will not reopen.

Shepparton Club general manager Wayne Sutton said reopening would be unfeasible due to the indoor dining limit, labelling the announcement as "smoke and mirrors".

“They're (Victorian Government) tying to show they're giving a lot when they’re not — if you look at how many venues have dedicated outside areas here, it’s not a lot,” he said.

Mr Sutton said their almost 300-person capacity club, which has now been shut for nearly six months, was haemorrhaging between $10,000 and $20,000 a week in overhead costs, with reopening set to cost even more.

He said their car park on Wyndham St was already used as a major thoroughfare for pedestrians, vehicles and bikes, making outside dining "impracticable".

“There’s still going to be a world of pain in regional Australia because people are missing out,” he said.

“We look forward to the date we can open the entire club.

“It’s for the mental health for all our members, for all our members who are sitting in their houses by themselves, there’s a myriad of reasons we should be open.”

The Victorian Government recently announced $87.5 million for councils and businesses outside of Melbourne to create outside dining areas of Melbourne.

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Seema Abdullah thanked everyone for their hard work, and said council was "geared up and ready" to support businesses looking to expand outdoor dining capacity.

“A total of $58 million is available in grants of up to $5000 to help hospitality businesses fund the equipment required to mobilise these adjustments, and we strongly encourage local businesses to make the most of this opportunity and apply,” she said.

“If we continue to keep up the good work, and do the simple things that keep all of us safe, we will see further changes in the coming weeks and months.”

Following the announcement, Tallis Wine co-oowner Alice Tallis said they were aiming to reopen in mid-October, with an announcement of a date imminent in the coming weeks.