Shepparton’s restaurants, pubs and cafes mixed about reopening in June

By Madi Chwasta

Shepparton's restaurant, pub and café owners have mixed feelings about the Victorian Government's plan to relax coronavirus restrictions and allow venues to open for up to 20 dine-in patrons from June 1.

Ineka Rowe owns two cafes in Shepparton - Café by the Little Gourmet Food Company, and the Garden Kitchen Café at the Billabong Garden Complex.

She said she would most likely open the Billabong Garden Complex café for dine-in, while keeping her Wyndham St café open for takeaway only.

However, she said she would be waiting for the Victorian Government to release the official opening guidelines on May 25 before enacting these decisions.

“We plan to open Garden Kitchen Café for dine-in from June 3, as we have the space inside, but we will have to work out the logistics,” she said.

“We won't be changing anything at Wyndham St - it wouldn't be financially viable to open for dine-in, as it's a small café and we can't fit many people with current social distancing restrictions.”

Of the larger venues in town, Aussie Hotel owner Paul Tsorbaris said his pub would be opening its doors for dine-in on June 1.

A Shepparton RSL spokesperson said management would make a decision about resuming dine-in once Victoria reached the next stage of relaxed restrictions.

Earlier this week, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced cafes, pubs and restaurants would be able to serve meals for up to 20 customers at a time from June 1.

He said this could be increased to 50 patrons from June 22, and up to 100 by the second half of July.

However, these changes would depend on the chief health officer's recommendations.

The final decision would be based on the rates of community transmission in Victoria, the state's ability to test, trace and respond to possible outbreaks, and the capacity of the health system.

“If, in the coming weeks, we see a sudden upswing in community exposures from an unknown source – we may have to make the call to delay,” Mr Andrews said.

In addition, restaurants, cafes and pubs would have to put a number of precautions in place to open for dine-in.

Venues have to abide by the rule of one person per four square metres, and tables would need to be spaced at least 1.5 m apart.

Contact details of every customer need to be taken for potential contact tracing, venues have to undergo extra cleaning, and staff would undergo health screening and temperature checks.

Patrons also can't go to a pub for a drink and a snack under these rules - they have to order a substantial meal.

Public bars, gaming areas and food courts will remain shut.