WHILE allowing hospitality venues to open to a larger amount of people before the long weekend was a great move for SA tourism and regional communities, the easing of restrictions hasn't been the cause for celebration for many publicans and cafe owners, as we would have hoped.
On Friday, I had a meal at my local for the first time since restrictions began in late March and, while the atmosphere was still quite jovial for knock-off time, it did not compare to previous visits when the street was full of cars and the establishment was heaving from local supporters and travellers.
We sat together - but of course apart - adhering to the four square metre per person social distancing rule. As we all came in the same car from the same household, it is understandable the rules can seem a little frustrating for business owners who are still not making money because of significantly reduced patronage.
This week, we had Macclesfield Hotel licencee Justin York highlight the difficulties faced by publicans under COVID-19 restrictions, with strong support still unable to turn a profit due to social distancing rules.
They can only allow up to 20 people into their front bar area, when normally there would be easily double that on weekend days.
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"We have essentially become a restaurant, but for us, there is no money in food," he said. "It's the social aspect of the front bar that brings in the money."
Hopefully there will be more compromise soon for our hospitality industries, possibly even just back to adhering to the 1.5-metre distancing rule like everywhere else, particularly as rent payments become due for those who were able to have them on hold, or to make it worth reopening at all.
I think we should still be attempting to distance ourselves - not just because of coronavirus, but because the flu season is upon us. It will be interesting to see if the impact is less significant because of the increased hygiene standards we have become accustomed to.
We have set the example so far to other states and countries how effective we can be in kicking coronavirus out.
So I say bring on a quicker announcement by Premier Steven Marshall of the final stage of easing restrictions - sooner rather than later - to help revive the health of our hospitality industries.
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