Business owners in Melbourne’s beer and wider hospitality scene face a renewed threat to their survival, following Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement this afternoon that the city will face six weeks of lockdown to combat the rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases.
It means that pubs, bars and breweries are now required to revert to takeaway service only, while Melburnians are once again being urged not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Venues in regional Victoria, on the other hand, have largely been spared from those restrictions, excluding Mitchell Shire north of the Melbourne, with Premier Andrews saying the rise in numbers has largely occurred in Melbourne.
Even as venues started to open, the future in this time of COVID-19 has been far from certain, as we explored in this story, but today's announcement means many businesses can no longer welcome people through their doors and will face many more weeks of limited, and possibly zero, income.
The move back to stage 3 restrictions for more of Melbourne and Victoria follows last week's announcement covering multiple postcodes across the city. There businesses were already struggling with the cost of reopening and then closing their doors again, which you can read about here.
James Knox, who runs Miss Moses in Brunswick, says he was prepared for today’s announcement, feeling the government had signalled in recent days that the restrictions would likely spread across the city.
“It became evident over a week ago that this thing wasn’t done and it was definitely a rollercoaster with more twists and turns in it,” James says.
"There’s no getting around it; it’s shit but [the government is] doing the right thing.”
Compared to the lockdown in March, James also says he feels far more prepared going into this one, with JobKeeper still being in place, a positive relationship with his landlord and the delivery side of the business already set up.
“I’m feeling a lot less anxious than this time three months ago,” he says. “There was just way more uncertainty attached to the whole thing last time around.
“We’ve pretty firmly kept one foot in the bottleshop and takeaway concept in terms of being logistically set up. “That took about a month to get up and running last time but we’ll be pretty quick to flick the switch on that."
Iain Ling, who runs the The Lincoln in Carlton, says he hopes that given the new restrictions, the hospitality industry looks after itself and more attention is given to issues around mental health.
“We’ve got to start talking about owner’s mental health and staff’s mental health, it’s a fucking rollercoaster,” Iain says. “We’ve worked so fucking hard to put in all the rules and regulations and it was kind of for nothing and we’re going to have to do it again.
“It’s kind of daunting to know that this will be a cycle, so we have to start reaching and making sure our friends are alright and our colleagues are alright.
“It’s important that we start these conversations early and we put some foundations in so if you are in trouble, you know where to turn."
Following the next two nights of trade, the pub will close for a short time while they work out a plan for the next six weeks. Although as both Iain and James told The Crafty Pint, six weeks may turn into many more.
“We can only take it day at a day at the moment,” Ian says. “Even planning seven days in advance at the moment seems foolish."
For The Crafty Pint, it means the Keeping Local Alive campaign remains as essential today as when we launched it back in March, with many pubs and breweries no doubt hoping people will be as eager to support their takeaway and home delivery services as they were first time around.
If your beer business is once again changing due to COVID-19, let us know.
For support surrounding mental health issues, you can contact: