Nightlife still goes on across Limestone Coast

Ryan Kobes And Brenton Serle The Commersh  TBW Newsgroup
CHEERS: Mount Gambier tradespeople Ryan Kobes and Brenton Serle went to added lengths for a knock-off drink yesterday, meeting social distancing guidelines recommended by health authorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Commercial Hotel bartender Angie Steen was on-hand to serve up beverages at the venue, which has removed tables from its dining area to provide greater social distancing between patrons. Picture: MOLLY TAYLOR

Karen Gray The Comersh, Coronavirus TBW Newsgroup
OPERATING LIKE NORMAL: The Commercial Hotel manager Karen Gray urged the community to remain calm during the ever-evolving coronavirus outbreak. Ms Gray said the hotel would be operating like usual with minor tweaks and changes to keep residents safe. Picture: MOLLY TAYLOR

IT will be business as usual for many of the Limestone Coast’s nightspots this weekend with pubs, clubs and restaurants adjusting to new federal restrictions on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

Among the Mount Gambier venues to tweak its services as a result of public uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is the Commercial Hotel, with business manager Karen Gray stating the hotel would comply with the new regulations.

“We are still seeing numbers, but I would say the coronavirus has had an impact on our business recently, particularly in meals and gaming,” Ms Gray said.

“It is a bit of a grey area, but the moment you start to change everything, it begins to bring business down and people start to go into hysteria.

“We will not be cancelling anything until the government says we have to and we will be operating like usual.”

Ms Gray said the 100-person ban did not impact business dramatically at the site.

“We will be removing some tables in the dining rooms to make sure there is the recommended 1.5 metre social distancing among diners.

“Nightclubs may find it difficult to control social distancing in larger open rooms on weekends and I think the ban will have impact on that.”

Ms Gray said live music performances scheduled for April had been cancelled, but other celebrations were still scheduled at the venue, including birthdays.

She called on the community to support local businesses and hoped COVID-19 would clear up soon.

“All areas and objects will be wiped down and cleaned on a regular basis every day including door handles, gaming machines and tables,” she said.

“Our Friday night draw will still be going ahead, but we have had difficulty sourcing produce and thank local businesses for their support.

“People still deserve to have a good time no matter the circumstance.”

Australian Hotel Association chief executive Ian Horne said the coronavirus outbreak was the most confronting thing Australia had seen since World War II.

“Australia has never been confronted with an outbreak like this,” Mr Horne said.

“We are talking about effectively shutting Australia off from the rest of the world to contain ourselves.

“It is the hospitality industry which will wear the costs during this.”

Mr Horne urged all hospitality venues to contain their capacity to 100, including staff.

The industry leader believes restrictions may be tightened to allow no more than one person per four square metres.

“It is almost unnecessary due to the reaction from the community, where people are cancelling functions and bookings,” he said.

While praising the resilience of regional operators, Mr Horne said the situation was becoming “catastrophic” for the hospitality sector, including job cuts around the state.

Mr Horne urged residents to help keep the industry afloat by purchasing a meal, a drink or enjoying a game of eightball – all while practicing the appropriate social distancing measures recommended by health authorities.