Daylesford businesses headed into this weekend expecting a busy one after being released from lockdown, but it was not to be as the town's COVID scare kept some visitors away.
On a normal Saturday, even under COVID restrictions, Daylesford would usually be a hive of activity, with cafes, restaurants and shops a full as they can be.
However, after a confirmed case of COVID-19 and three exposure were identified in Daylesford late Friday afternoon, businesses saw a dramatic reduction in expected visitation.
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Two hospitality venues were identified as exposure sites, with Cliffy's Emporium a tier one and Panchos Cafe a tier two, along with a medical centre.
Antique shop Found is located next door to Pancho and owner Helen Box said visitors had been scared away on Saturday.
"It's really very quiet in town. It's like a bit of a ghost town. My observation is that everyone's a little bit flat, a little bit jaded by the whole COVID coming to town experience," she said.
"I think it's really hit home to people that it's very real and when it's actually in your own small little town, I think people really feel that. I think they're going underground a little bit."
Ms Box said, like other business owners, expected a big weekend coming out of lockdown.
"I think being able to open from yesterday, it was going to be an exciting weekend for us to get some trade, get some regional visitors in. We were expecting a lot of people - we get a lot from Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, the other major regional centres, because we're all really only an hour and a half maximum from each other, but we won't get them. There's no visitors here this weekend," she said.
Hospitality venues also suffered from the lack of visitors, with one business having all of its Saturday night bookings cancelled after the news of the confirmed case broke.
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Galley Diner manager Joseph Raza said only a handful of customers had come through by Saturday afternoon.
"We have a lot of customers on weekends, even if we're not allowed seated services, but that's the first time Daylesford has had a case and now it's a Saturday and we've had two customers and we'd usually have 20 or 25 by now," he said.
"Obviously, people are scared, I think. The cafe right next to us was a tier two so people are scared. We'll see how it goes.
"We are doing seated service, but there's no one around. People just don't want to sit in. If they know the shop, they'll come in, but first time customers, I don't think they're comfortable sitting anywhere."
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