The easing of some restrictions for hospitality businesses is just the first step, and it may not all be good news while uncertainty remains.
From 11.59pm on Wednesday, regional Victoria will be allowed to move to the 'third step' of easing restrictions - as well as allowing more freedom of movement, and the ability to meet more people in outdoor gatherings, many were surprised by Premier Daniel Andrews announcing hospitality venues will be allowed to have a maximum of 50 people outside, and 20 people inside depending on space.
There are still several restrictions, including two hour time limits - for indoor dining, no more than 10 people will be allowed each space, with venues only allowed one person per four square metres.
WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU'LL DO WHEN RESTRICTIONS EASE? LET US KNOW BELOW!
Outside, this becomes one person per two square metres, though tables must be 1.5m apart from each other.
In Ballarat, several venues were unable to speak to The Courier on Tuesday afternoon as phones were ringing "off the hook", and others were busy pushing to finish repair work, call suppliers and staff, or reconfigure their interiors to follow the new rules.
That's important, according to the Australian Hotel Association's Victoria president David Canny - there will be scrutiny on how regional venues reopen safely, and business owners need to be trusted to get it right.
"It's not the silver bullet, but it allows us to get going in some capacity," he said.
"We certainly appreciate the support of the public in understanding there will be time limits, and there will be contact tracing, and they need to support that with us as we navigate our way through to the next step."
At Hydrant Food Hall in central Ballarat, owner Elise Rowe said she was devastated at first - though the business will be able to welcome customers, it may not be viable to only allow 10.
Hydrant cannot use outdoor tables in McKenzie Street, though she said she's hoping to get discussions under way with the City of Ballarat.
In the meantime, it's a matter of making tough decisions on staffing and supplies.
"It's a double-edged sword - we're very excited we can have people in with us again, that's something we've been really missing is having our customers in, because customers are such a large part of why we're there, and especially our staff," she said.
"The devastating part is that we're capped at 10 - that creates, for us, a whole new world of adapting.
"While it's great to have some people in with us, we're very realistic that's not a viable option, and not sustainable, so we'll have to continue on offering takeaway options as well.
"We'll still be reopening as soon as possible."
Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett said people excited to visit their favourite venues must be understanding as they reopened.
"It may take venues two days to get themselves together, so people need to be a little patient and understand they might not have been carrying a lot of stock in the circumstances," she said.
"While they have restricted numbers, it's still really difficult for them.
"If you're going in and you're seeing they're really busy - understand they're working at so much under their capacity, and it's still incredibly difficult for them with a long road ahead."
Maintaining bookings becomes even more important - if it has to change, let the venue know so they can still fill a seat, Ms Gillett added.
"Understand if they're only allowed to have 10 people in their restaurant, and you book, and you come in with one less person, that makes a huge difference," she said.
State Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford echoed the premier, and said the easing of restrictions was due to regional Victorians following the rules.
"(The easing) is not the solution to all the problems affecting every business, individual, or family, but it'll give people more options," she said.
"It's an opportunity to get together with friends outdoors, an opportunity to give hospitality venues more tools to work with."
A number of other businesses will also be allowed to reopen, including beauty and tattoo shops, however gyms will remain closed to patrons, according to Ms Pulford - up to five employees will be allowed inside to record or stream workouts.
City of Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor said the announcement will make a "big difference" across the city.
"Businesses need the support - here's an opportunity now," he said.
"Make the phone calls, book in, takeaway is still available.
"We'd like to see regional Victoria opening sooner, but the guidelines are there."
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said the reopening had broader implications for the whole community.
"It's a chance for us to activate the city, and in part it's about restaurants and cafes, and we should absolutely be encouraging retail and hospitality to adapt to the rules, but one of the things that's going to help people coming into the city or out of the home is the activation - restaurants, cafes, shops will be more likely to have people in them when there's other reasons for people to come out besides just shopping," he said.
With the announcement of grants for outdoor dining, he encouraged businesses and council to seize the opportunity to "change the way our city works".
"I think we're too quick to default to 'it's too cold in Ballarat' - weather is poor all around the world but people adapt to it because that's what the city provides," he said.
"You sit outside in a cafe in Paris, you have a coat on, you have a blanket provided by the venue, you're sitting under a heater - I think it's too easy to just say people won't embrace the outdoors, let's use the opportunity."
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The onus is now on the entire city to follow the rules - Minister Pulford said regional Victoria needed to move in "one direction forward", which Ms Gillett echoed.
"Don't become complacent - it's only because we've been doing the right thing in regional Victoria that we're allowed to take this step, so we must continue, so our businesses can stay open and our citizens can remain employed," she said.
"Businesses are going to do everything they can to keep you safe, so they can stay open."
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