Dance studios across the Wimmera are still grappling with restrictions, even as much of regional Victoria is reopening for business.
Linda Grigg, the owner of District Dance Studios, which runs programs across the Wimmera, said being unable to reopen is disappointing.
"I'm disappointed that the same pattern happen over again, but I'm respectful of the fact that we do need to lock down and I was glad that we did lock down, even though it broke my heart," Ms Grigg said.
"I respect what they're doing, but sometimes in the big picture, in the frantic craziness of it, all the little people miss out. I mean, last year we came back when brothels came back."
Ms Grigg said dance studios were some of the most stringent businesses when adhering closely to COVID-19 regulations after the last lockdown.
"In our, in our studio, when we come back from a lockdown, we always wear masks, we socially distance. I would say I can confidently say that dance studio owners that I know implement higher expectations of hygiene than often necessary," Ms Grigg said.
"We temperature checked and tested probably for about a month after we had to, because we chose to do that so our community to felt that they are supported and they're in a safe environment.... with social distancing, we all have spots on the floor and that's what we do."
According to Ms Grigg, part of the frustration comes from the reopening of schools across the state.
"A lot of us work in the schools. One teacher actually works in a school and teaches dance with the kids at school," she said.
"I can teach a VCE dance class, but I'm not able to teach my dance students who already now attend school.
"It's just disappointing, so disappointing, but we are trying to move forward in the best possible way. So we can be role models in our community.
"We're not wanting to put our students or our communities in unsafe situations, but I just don't understand the logic. Dance studios; they're not in line with brothels. We really are not."
Laura Cameron, the owner of Dynamic Dance in Ararat, said the restrictions could be confusing for young students, who form the majority of enrolled students at her studio.
"We're a small town, so all the kids are attending school together and they're doing all of these activities together, but then they're not allowed to go into the dance studio, which is quite confusing," Ms Cameron said.
Ms Grigg said that the uncertainty over where dance studios fitted caused much confusion in the industry.
"We'll be put in as a fitness studio, then we're put in as a creative studio and then that was taken away and now this latest tag, now we're indoor recreation," she said.
"So we have all our assets, all our codes for our businesses have now been changed."
"There was so much work for our industry done last year so that we could be recognized under creative studios, and we would be able to open earlier," Ms Cameron said.
"We feel that we can provide like safely adhere to all of the guidelines and requirements. Unfortunately all that work to move us into the creative studios didn't get pushed through."
Due to uncertainty, enrolments in 2021 are down from previous years.
"I would say that we are running at 60% capacity. We are down an awful lot," Ms Grigg said.
"There's ramifications from last year that you can see spilling over with lots of anxiety and people struggling who come to classes and to have fun. We create endorphins, we create fun."
Ms Grigg said she'd explored alternative options such as Zoom and outdoor classes, but the results hadn't been promising.
However, she said she understands why the lockdown was put in place and is pragmatic about the future.
"At the same time, we all learn and grow from these things and we just do the best we can," she said.
"We're respectful of the position we're put in and we prepared to do it as a state, but we need to be realistic about being fair across the board."
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