Major players in Victoria’s hospitality industry launched a campaign today to “unlock” the city. With restaurants, bars and cafes slated to reopen on October 26 at the earliest (and only for outdoor seating), they believe their industry will suffer dramatically in the interim. They are urging the premier to reconsider Victoria’s road map out of lockdown, and are “painting the town pink” with banners, encouraging locals to take a snap in front of their favourite venues and share on social media, using the hashtag #ItsTime.

Below is their open letter to the Premier of Victoria:

Business owners and workers in the hospitality industry understand the need for caution when it comes to Covid-19. We do not take the health of Victorians lightly. But we believe the industry can safely reopen sooner than this road map specifies. We want to save jobs and livelihoods, to mitigate the negative impact on mental health, and help bolster the Victorian economy during this dire time.

Hospitality is more than cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs. It encompasses farmers, fishers, bakers, growers, butchers and artisan suppliers, as well as stallholders, wholesalers, truck drivers, and factory and warehouse workers. Our industry is a major contributor to the Victorian economy, and more importantly, it’s a cornerstone of the character of our state. When tourists talk about Melbourne and Victoria, they talk about our cafe culture, pubs, fine diners, markets and wineries, which are among the best in the world. Our hospitality industry should be revered as a state treasure.

We have complied with government training and guidelines for Covid-19. We respect the care that has been put into plans that limit the spread of coronavirus, such as the accredited Covid-19 officers and contact tracing. We want to work with the government and public-health experts to control cluster outbreaks and protect our state. We are committed to best practices. But we feel it’s time the Victorian government actually engaged with the industry to develop a realistic road map specific to hospitality, in order for us to reopen safely and allow our businesses to recover. We believe the current timeline is too strict. States such as NSW are reopening safely and monitoring clusters effectively with thorough contact tracing.

We are calling on the Victorian government to make the following accommodations earlier:

Indoor Trading
● A maximum of 50 patrons per enclosed space, observing social distancing, density requirements, contact recording and appropriate sanitisation.

Outdoor Trading
● Maximum of 50 patrons per outdoor area, observing social distancing, density requirements, contact recording and appropriate sanitisation.

We are partnering with Change Victoria on this campaign, which calls for hospitality to be “unlocked” and encourages Victorians to take a selfie in front of their favourite local cafe, bar, restaurant or pub and post it on social media with the hashtag #ItsTime. We’re also painting Melbourne pink – you’ll see the Change Victoria banners all over the city.

The campaign includes a petition to parliament, which you can view and sign here.

Signed,

Alla Wolf-Tasker AM, Lakehouse and Dairy Flat Farm
Andrew Joy and Travis Howe, Carlton Wine Room
Andrew McConnell, Trader House Restaurants
Cam Jackson, Nevermind Bar
Karen Martini and Michael Sapountsis, Mr Wolf
Chris Lucas, Lucas Restaurants
Frank and Xavier Dimattina, Il Gambero and Bluetrain
Frank Van Haandel, Stokehouse
Geoff Lindsay, Dandelion
Hayden Burbank, Morris Jones
Jason Chang, Calia Restaurant
Jean-Paul Prunetti, France Soir
Julian Gerner, Morgan’s Sorrento
Kathy, Jacques, Natalie, Edouard and Antoine Reymond L’Hôtel Gitan and Bistro Gitan
Lino Scidone, La Camera
Liz Rodriguez and Guy Grossi, Grossi Restaurants
Mallory Wall and Rinaldo Di Stasio, Di Stasio Restaurants
Matteo Pignatelli, Matteo’s Restaurant
Michael Thiele, Hardimans Hotel
Nick Stanton, Leonardo’s Pizza Palace
Rene and Jason McConnell, Dave Parker, San Telmo Group
Paul Dimattina, Lamaro’s Hotel
Paul Olynyk, Public House Group
Paul Wilson, Mr Wilson
Rabih Yanni, Botanical Hotel
Scott Pickett, Pickett & Co
Teague Ezard, Gingerboy
Tom Walker, Bleakhouse Hotel