Ballarat's recovery from COVID-19 will not be an instant snap-back after lockdown restrictions were eased.
Business leaders have welcomed the changes which crucially have removed travel restrictions on Melburnians who can now travel to regions following the removal of the 25 kilometre travel limit.
Commerce Ballarat CEO Jodie Gillett welcomed the easing of restrictions which have had a major impact.
"Business were devastated this didn't come in time to help them with the long weekend which proved to be pretty disastrous for our local businesses," she said.
The new chair of Ballarat Regional Tourism, Paul Martino, hoped people who have been cooped up will visit for the sake of the industries of accommodation, events and attractions.
"We are hoping that Australians, Victorians, Melbourne and people from country Victoria will get out there and support business."
The state government increased limits at hospitality venues to 300 seated patrons, smaller places can have up to 25 people before density quotients are applied from Friday.
Mr Martino said the hospitality had been damaged by the lockdowns and rules.
"Our industry needs to start getting some money back because many people in the hospitality and tourism sector have used up savings and without Jobkeeper this fourth lockdown has been crippling."
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Mercure Ballarat managing director Iain Gunn agreed that no JobKeeper payments in this lockdown had hurt workers.
"They've sort of been abandoned by the federal government,no JobKeeper this time around. Businesses regrettably just can't carry that burden, no revenue, no work, no work, no pay regrettably."
Ms Gillett said the lack of JobKeeper had had a damaging impact beyond the walls of business.
"There's lots in our community who are doing it really tough without having casual hours offered to them because of those restrictions."
Business are counting the cost as once again slow steps towards a recovery are planned.
Mr Gunn said the accommodation and convention business is not an industry that can snap-back when restrictions ease.
"It will be a while before we are back to full throttle, it knocks confidence around with future bookings. We've had cancellations for events clearly in June but also into July."
He estimated the latest COVID lock-down cost his business probably close to half a million dollars in lost revenue.
Paul Martino said while bouncing back from lock-downs depended on the industry, the accommodation sector takes time to recover.
"It took somewhere between six to eight weeks for businesses to get back to something close to what their revenue was like prior."
"The conversation around vaccination is critical, we need to get to herd immunity," Mr Martino said.
It's a thought supported by Iain Gunn "we can probably expect this is going to happen again until such time we reach a level of vaccinations through the community that's going to avoid it."
Ms Gilllett said regional Victoria's last case of COVID was in mid-January and while people need to stay safe, localised lockdowns not statewide ones should be considered.
"It's pleasing to see the easing of restrictions, we'd like to see further easing next week and we certainly want to see a more localised, nuanced approach into the future if it comes to dealing with outbreaks."
Meantime there's something else people can do to help businesses survive the impact of COVID-19
"If you are able please get out and buy local, support local and show a little love to a Ballarat business," Ms Gillett said.
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