Businesses across the Wimmera let out a small sigh of relief on Sunday as the Victorian Government eased numerous restrictions across the state.
With one eye on the holiday season, Daniel Andrews announced that masks were no longer mandatory when outside, increased the cap on social gatherings and expanded the capacity of pubs, weddings and funerals.
It was an early Christmas present for many, including for Bull and Mouth Hotel owner Simon Mitchell and Wimmera Funerals operator Trevor Bysouth.
"The new restrictions will make it easier; we won't have to do double settings each night," Mr Mitchell said.
"We were expecting a new cap of 100, but we've been given 150, which is great news," Mr Bysouth said.
The caps for pubs and hotels are broken into large and smaller venues - one person per square metre for the former and one person per two square metres for the latter.
Mr Mitchell said he was grateful that the Bull and Mouth Hotel no longer had to impose seating restrictions.
"We are no longer limited by a venue cap," Mr Mitchell said.
"No more 10 people here and 10 people there."
He said the community support had been overwhelming.
"We're booked out every night. It's been insane," he said. "I think people are itching to get out and spend money. Having the travellers back on the road is good too.
"For example last Tuesday night we had 100 booked in for a sitting and only 48 people were from Horsham. I feel this will continue through until Christmas, especially with the corporate bookings."
To quote Queen Elizabeth, it's been an annus horribilis (Latin for 'horrible year'.- Trevor Bysouth, Wimmera Funerals
Wimmera Funerals is saluting the larger caps on services.
"It's great to have 150 people, because only a few months ago we could only have 10 (people)," Mr Bysouth said.
"I did a funeral this year for a family with 14 children and the wife which put the family in an untenable situation - which 10 of those 15 get to go? That's unworkable."
Mr Bysouth said the new cap does cause new issues: finding a suitable venue for 150 people.
"If we have an indoor funeral, the need to find a venue that is big enough to apply the four square metre rule.
"The good thing is people don't have to wear masks at outdoor services unless they cannot socially distance.
"We also have to keep a record for contract tracing. With 150 people, that's 150 names and 150 phone numbers we have to keep on record.
"It's a potential onerous exercise."
My Bysouth the hard cap on crowd sizes still creates headaches.
"We have a limit of any size, we can't advertise a funeral in terms of its time and place, because then we have no control over how many people attend.
"So it's still, as it has been for all of COVID the invitation, attendance by invitation only.
"If we didn't do that, and we ended up with 250 people, I would have to ask 100 people to leave. I don't want to be in that position.
"That's an onerous task for the family who have just lost someone they loved."
I think people are itching to get out and spend money. Having the travellers back on the road is good too.- Simon Mitchell, Bull and Mouth Hotel
Mr Bysouth said it has been a trying year for all funeral directors across VIctoria.
"To quote Queen Elizabeth, it's been an annus horribilis (Latin for 'horrible year')," he said.
"I've been telling people for most of this year what they can't do, when throughout my professional career, I've been telling people 'Yes, we can do that for you'.
"It's turned my profession upside down."
Mr Bysouth said the pandemic has forced the industry to adapt, creating some positive changes.
"We've taught ourselves to do funerals in different ways via recording of funerals and live streaming," he said.
"That creates a whole new set of issues with copyright. I've got, I've got copyright coverage for pretty much anything (in Australia), but if you live stream if that means you need international copyright coverage for any music or poetry or words copyrighted words are read, which is a bit of a logistical nightmare again.
"We won't even talk about if you're trying to do a live streaming outdoors."
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