Ballarat was bustling once again for the first weekend since restrictions were eased, but venue owners say not all businesses are viable yet.
Fine weather on Saturday and reopened attractions like Kryal Castle and the Ballarat Wildlife Park got many more people out of the house, eager to safely reconnect with friends and loved ones in person.
Ballan's Richard Beazley and his daughter Edie went to the Wildlife Park before catching up with his sister at the Victoria Park playground.
He said they hadn't seen each other in months - his sister Sam and her daughter Sophie live in Kyneton, and while they weren't able to visit each others' houses, a day at the park was close enough.
"She's got a seven-month-old we've seen maybe twice through the whole pandemic," Mr Beazley said.
"I'm quite lucky, I work in construction so I've been working through the whole pandemic, but my sister's got three little ones and has basically been stuck inside, so it's great to see the kids altogether again."
In Daylesford, regional visitors were spotted from Geelong and Bendigo, as well as Ballarat.
Buster McGee's Alex Hancocks said business was definitely busier.
"It's kind of nice, it gives you a chance to get off the trundle wheels again - if Melbourne people had been released it would have been a bit crazy," he said.
Back in Ballarat, patrons were lucky to get a table at venues as they made the best of being able to reopen with limited seating.
Hop Temple's Brian Taylor said phones had not stopped ringing.
"Just this first weekend - we're overwhelmed with the response in regard to customers and locals, who have been so supportive," he said.
"We've been heavily booked for what we're allowed to have - people making bookings for three or four weeks in advance."
But while the ability to open is good for people who have been keen for a big breakfast or to catch up with small groups of friends, it's still difficult terrain for many venue owners.
Royal Daylesford Hotel publican Cameron Stone said his venue had hundreds of square metres vacant - under the current rules, hospitality venues can have up to 10 people sitting in each separate section, to a maximum of 20 for the entire venue, but 50 outside.
READ MORE: Is Daylesford ready to open up?
The outdoor seating is less useful when poor weather hits, as it did on Sunday afternoon.
"There's definitely a lot more enquiries, but we can't service the people, because we can only put 20 people inside," he said.
"It's impossible to be profitable with these restrictions in place."
It's expected restrictions will lift further in November.
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