RUPANYUP residents are rallying to keep their town's watering hole open, after the new owners had to return to Melbourne to comply with lockdown restrictions.
From 11.59pm on Wednesday, Stage Three "Stay at Home" restrictions come into force for six weeks across metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.
Owner Chris Ormrod and his family count Lilydale, in outer eastern Melbourne, as their primary place of residence.
On Wednesday afternoon, a day after closing the pub until further notice, Mr Ormrod asked his facebook community if anyone was interested in helping the pub stay open by serving drinks.
He said he was happy with the response.
"A couple of people with Responsible Serving of Alcohol certificates have expressed interest in opening up the pub on weekends and serving customers. Because regional areas aren't really affected, they can do that," he said.
"We had the limit of people per square metre, but we were doing business before Tuesday after we were allowed to reopen. It's been quite confusing as to whether I should be locked down in Lilydale or whether I can still travel to Rupanyup because it's my business. While I iron that out, I'll be getting some people in the community to open the doors up."
Mr Ormrod said he was "working through the details" of if and how residents that helped would be paid for their service. He said he wanted to do the right thing by the community and not put them at risk of COVID-19.
Yarra Ranges Shire Council, which includes Lilydale, has had 30 cases of the virus. Two of them remain active.
"I've got some people that are interested in staying in the pub's accommodation for work, so I've got to be there for that as well," he said.
"It probably won't be open for meals, but at least we can open the doors for people to have some drinks and social interaction."
Mr Ormrod said he hoped the pub would be open Friday and Saturday nights.
Whitney Kingston is one of the residents that has put her hand up to serve drinks. She said supporting the family that had reopened the town's one pub after a hiatus of more than a year was the least she could do.
"It must be a stressful time for them, being between homes in Lilydale and running an enterprise in country Victoria. I also want to do it to help boost the morale of the town and the people who live and work here," she said.
"We're 40 minutes from Horsham, so to have somewhere where everyone can go out and catch up is good, especially seeing as we don't have a football season at the moment. Socially, everyone uses the pub, we've always had meetings in the hotel, footballers, farmers and kinder mum get together.
"It's also a nice way to check in with everyone in your community. I think that's especially important at this time when everyone can get a little bit distressed about being home alone. It's especially harsh for a lot of our elderly community whose families are in Melbourne: they aren't getting a lot of connection. So for everyone to be able to connect is a nice thing to do."
"We are all taking our social distancing very seriously up here because we have an aging population. Sadly a lot of them shouldn't be exposing themselves to people being sick because of compromised immune systems and chemotherapy treatments."
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