On Sunday Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews told Melbourne’s residents that the city was starting to progress with the Third Step on its road to recovery.
Unfortunately this initially did not include the city’s hospitality venues, but he did say when bars would be able to reopen.
“We need to wait just a bit longer – until 11:59pm on 1 November – to take the rest of the Third Step that will see retail, hospitality and personal care services open again,” the Premier said.
“This is a timeline that is based on the current advice of our public health team.
“But if we continue to track well on the most important indicators – case averages, mystery cases, test numbers and the number of days people wait before they get tested – we may be in a position to move sooner.”
That switched on the light at the end of the tunnel for many of Melbourne’s bar owners and operators, including Brooke Hayman and Julian White, the team behind the popular Whisky & Alement bar.
“Our desire to reopen doors and again welcome customers into the venue is a momentous occasion,” Brooke told Bars and Clubs.
“With the exception of a brief two weeks in July, we’ve been now been closed for 7 months and are excited to announce that we’ll be re-opening the bar to our maximum capacity of 10 guests on Thursday 5 November.”
Brooke said that the team has been working on its plans for reopening, alongside its pivoted business.
“We have been operating online sales which have depleted the back bar, restocking the bar has been the most exciting yet time consuming process, uploading to menus, point of sale, training etc.
“Ensuring we are Covid-safe and comply with all government regulations has also been time consuming. Government sites are not being updated when announcements are made so checking in daily is vital.
“We are exceptionally lucky that bottle shop operations allow us to be onsite and plan for opening, ‘restricted’ hospitality venues are not allowed to enter their premise until 28 October – four days prior to the official opening date.”
Despite the excitement about reopening the bar, Brooke told Bars and Clubs there is still some concern about the long-term viability especially if density restrictions remain in place too long into 2021.
“We’re continuing to keep connected with our community through virtual tastings and our online bottle shop whilst working on new projects to ensure we survive beyond March,” she said.
“If however these capacity restrictions last beyond March 2021, viability will become an issue.”
Looking ahead, Brooke shared some of her hopes for the rest of the year and into 2021, saying: “Two square metres by February, JobKeeper extension, additional grants; we want to see the City of Melbourne come back to life.
“All I want for Christmas in 2020 is some certainty of what to expect in 2021.”
And she had this message for the people of Melbourne: “Book your favourite restaurant or bar, density quotients may not be viable long term, but this is an incredible opportunity to receive personalised service in some of the world’s best venues.”
It’s a great point!