HORSHAM'S hotel owners say the recent spread of COVID in the region is impacting the city's hospitality venues, with some businesses forced to reduce service due to staffing issues.
This comes as the Wimmera records growing numbers of cases - with 36 new infections reported in the region on Thursday.
Exchange Hotel owner and Wimmera representative of the Australian Hotels Association Nick Murray said the business had struggled to find staff to cover shifts and had far less staff compared to other years.
"We are down from a seasonal number of 30 on the books down to six," he said.
"We have had to reduce the size of our venue, we have closed the front half of the hotel and only opened one bar instead of two.
"We can't staff it."
Mr Murray said there had also been confusion from younger staff members about whether they were close contacts and if they had to isolate.
"We have had to shut one whole bar which is a pretty big hit for our business. For our younger staff, there is a lot of confusion about what is close contact and when they have to isolate," he said.
"There has been a lot of confusion, hopefully when things settle down a little bit we will increase capacity but I can't see that happening in the next month or so."
Bull and Mouth owner Simon Mitchell said he had to cut the hotel's lunch service due to a lack of staff, and while none of his staff had been close contacts, was worried about the potential of losing even more staff to COVID.
"My full-timers have gone and got jobs that are in more secure industries and I can't blame them," he said.
"The ones I am using now are just part-time people who are looking for gainful employment."
This comes after the Victorian government re-imposed a density quota of one person per two square metres in hospitality venues.
Speaking on Thursday, health minister Martin Foley said the new dancefloor restrictions were aimed at limiting transmission among young people.
"We think this is a sensible change, particularly in the face of the continued huge growth in transmission, particularly amongst young people," he said.
However, Mr Murray said he believed the new density quota would not impact the spread of the Omicron variant in an indoor setting.
"As far as the density cap is concerned I can't see that fixing anything to deal with the spread of the virus," he said.
"If this thing is as virulent as they tell us then one in two square metres is a scant action to curtail the spread of this thing."
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