In a pandemic era, the hospitality industry has been constantly dodging, weaving, and frequently receiving blows.
Lockdowns and restrictions on capacity have been difficult enough. Being declared a tier one or tier two exposure site has made life harder.
After a number of Ballarat venues have had encounters with COVID-positive guests in recent times, the City Oval Hotel has now been hit.
The experiences of the hotel management and staff illustrate the burden felt by others in the field.
"We had a positive case visit us on October 3," publican Robert Gayton said, having been contacted by Grampians Health on October 12.
"All the staff working that night have to get tested and isolate until the weekend."
At this point, no employee has presented as being unwell and no one has tested positive. Mr Gayton himself has received a negative test, as has the kitchen hand.
Pleasingly, for the remaining staff and customers, the hotel has been able to operate. Grampians Health informed Mr Gayton the venue did not have to shut because of the time period which had past and the regular cleaning regime which existed.
"They just told us to make sure to keep up our cleaning protocols and off you go again," Mr Gayton said.
Throughout, the City Oval has managed the requirements of authorities.
"Our staff have just finished a six-hour clean of venue from top to bottom," Mr Gayton said.
"They stripped everything down and finished off with a good dose of Glen 20.
"We put one fellow on 12 months ago to cope with the added cleaning regimes."
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There have been immediate impacts on the business as there have been for other establishments which have been visited by positive patrons.
There is the ongoing mental burden, exacerbated by being an exposure site, for those in the industry.
"I (was) confident that we were back on track, but every time you think things are going okay, you get another jab in the ribs," he said.
There is the additional financial blow. The hotel is currently open for dinners, but remains closed at other times.
"We have had to reduce our hours," Mr Gayton said.
"I've dropped all the lunches apart from Friday this week, just cutting back on the staff."
A weight is also carried by the family members of those in the pub game.
My Gayton's wife, Julie, has loyally stood by her husband while trying to manage four school-aged children, each at a different school, her ailing parents, and the hotel.
To make matters worse, her mother fell at the family farm last Friday evening, lying exposed and helpless for 16 hours.
"I don't have time to get buggered," Mrs Gayton said, resilience shining through.
Since the exposure site announcement on Tuesday, the hotel has received one abusive phone call, with the anonymous figure at the other end of the line demanding the business be shut.
Fortunately, the vast majority of people have remained supportive.
"A bloke just rang me having seen that we were a tier one site," Mr Gayton said.
"He wanted to know if we were still open Friday night. I explained to him we were. He said, 'That's good!'"
Mr Gayton's doctor has also reached out, asking about his welfare.
A former employee has organised a kitchen hand to come in and back up the remaining chef.
Multiple messages of encouragement have been received.
"It makes me feel very special to know I have so many people that care about me, my family, my staff, and the City Oval Hotel," Mr Gayton said.
"It warms my heart knowing how much the City Oval Hotel is respected in the Ballarat community."
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