Halls Gap Tavern's Terry Convery has welcomed changes to restrictions on regional hospitality, saying things are looking up ahead of the AFL Grand Final.
It comes as Business Horsham says the city's eateries have been largely left disappointed by the state government's changes to restrictions on dining in regional Victoria.
Since 11.59pm on Sunday, regional pubs, restaurants and cafes can seat up to 40 people inside and 70 outside, up from 20 and 50 respectively.
However they are only allowed to seat ten people per dining room or bar room, meaning places that have fewer than four dining rooms can't seat 40 people.
Mr Convery, who is using the lockdown period to renovate the venue, said it was a "welcome sign".
"We have had considerable improvements since we've been allowed bookings of ten, it's certainly increased activity in the town," he said.
"We are lucky we've got two dining areas and a very big beer garden as well. We are also looking at getting a government grant to offer more outdoor areas so that if there's a change of weather we can still have dining outside, and we have getting TVs to face out into the beer garden.
"We are just starting to hire back all the staff we had on before the pandemic, but we only had one that was eligible for JobKeeper out of half a dozen.
"With the Grand Final, the Melbourne Cup and Christmas coming sooner rather than later things are looking up."
Mr Convery said he acknowledged the impacts the 1.5-metre rule was having on smaller hospitality businesses than his.
Business Horsham Ambassador Stacey Taig said Premier Daniel Andrews' announcement of this change left some in the city underwhelmed.
"Realistically, there are a lot of hospitality businesses that don't have the space to fill those additional spots," she said. "It's largely just disappointment that restrictions haven't been lifted as much as expected."
Ms Taig said some businesses in the city were hanging on "by the skin of their teeth". "It is a crucial time for some, and that's why I think there was disappointment there," she said.
"And when they talk about easing restrictions, there is a lot of confusion about what applies to Melbourne and what applies to regional Victoria. There needs to be a more clear delineation between the two."
Ms Taig said she was hoping it would not be long before there was significant easing of restrictions in regional Victoria.
"Definitely with the 1.5 metre rule and the easing of numbers in the hospitality sector, I think both are equally important in the hospitality sector."
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