Horsham's publicans say the past weekend was a good return to trading, albeit difficult because of the new vaccine requirements imposed on venues by the Victorian government.
On October 22, new rules were introduced allowing hospitality venues to serve up to 30 patrons inside, and 100 outside if all people on-site had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Venues were only allowed to offer seated service, and required a COVID marshall at all entrances of the building.
Exchange Hotel owner Nick Murray said the venue was at capacity for most of the weekend, and operated smoothly besides some logistical hurdles.
"There was no drama to speak of whatsoever. Everyone was fairly cognizant of all of the rules. There were one or two who turned up and hadn't had their second vaccination, but certainly no issues with anyone getting angry," he said.
"It is tough logistically, I was pretty much on the door making sure everyone understood, checking people in and everything like that.
"A few of the older ones do not understand the phone stuff, so a lot of people had paper-based certificates."
Many hospitality venue owners were surprised by the rule changes, which were announced by premier Daniel Andrews and COVID commander Jeroen Weimar in the middle of the past week.
Initially, venues only had to have staff with one dose of the vaccine, and the next dose booked. However a last-minute change from the government saw businesses scramble to meet the double vaccine requirements.
White Hart Hotel owner Bruce Hartigan said the double dose requirement meant he had to turn away a lot of people with only one dose.
"It was a lot of extra work. That is fine, because we were allowed to function and that is better than being shut," he said.
"We copped a little bit of abuse and angst because people could not come into the pub for a meal or a drink.
"If that happens three or four times in a row, you are over it. We are not here to be abused. We cop that enough anyway."
Mr Hartigan said policing the requirements was also made difficult by a low availability of hospitality staff in Horsham.
"You can't always do that because you don't have enough staff. Any other business that hasn't had any interruptions because of the virus scenario, they are alright because their staff didn't leave them, they are busier than ever," he said.
"Whereas we had six months without any work, so those people went and got other jobs."
Hospitality requirements are set to change again at 6pm on Friday, October 29, as the state reaches 80 per cent full vaccination for its population aged 16 and up.
Under the new requirements, regional Victoria and metro Melbourne will share the same restrictions, enabling people to travel interstate and into Melbourne.
Most indoor settings will open with a density quotient of one person per four square metres, instead of a patron cap.
Outdoor settings will have a density quotient of one person per two square metres, with a cap of 500 people.
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