Hospitality bounces back after lockdown — but worker shortages mean many businesses still can't breathe easy – ABC News

Dancefloors across central Victoria reopened this weekend and businesses welcomed the absence of capacity limits on patron numbers to kick off the summer.
After enduring almost two years of tough coronavirus restrictions, businesses and patrons alike are eager to return to a sense of pre-pandemic times as Victoria shifts to a "living with COVID-19" mantra.
The owner of the Rifle Brigade Hotel, Leanne Scholtz, said the weekend's turnout was amazing and hoped the revival continues with the warmer weather.
"It was extremely busy, from open till close basically," she said.
"I'm glad that it's all lifted the way that it has, just to allow people to enjoy their Christmas parties.
"To know that you don't have to turn people away, because that happened so much, and to know that we're coming into the good weather, and everyone can utilise every bit of space that they possibly have … it's going to be great."
"We're very lucky."
The owner of the Shamrock Hotel in Bendigo, Ray Sharawara, says he has plenty of forward bookings through the summer months, something the hotel has not experienced for almost two years.
"The numbers are increasing every day," Mr Sharawara said.
"People from Melbourne have been a godsend for regional Victoria, obviously it's a great source of people coming.
"The big, special events that were all postponed, they're all now earmarked to be back on early in the new year and that period can be not quite as busy (in Bendigo) as a lot of people go off to the coast or the Murray.
"We're going to have a lot back in Bendigo and we're looking forward to that."
Mr Sharawara tipped Bendigo Art Gallery's Elvis Presley exhibition in March to provide a significant boost to the region's tourism economy.
Despite the positivity from Victoria's opening weekend, Mr Sharawara said he still feared for the hospitality industry with the current staff shortages.
"Staffing is an issue. We know it's an issue for nearly all hospitality venues," he said.
"The pressure's on for fully trained staff like chefs because Australia did lose many people as they had to go back to their own countries.
"We're under great pressure."
Ms Scholtz said many people are worried about entering the industry after seeing the decimation the pandemic caused.
"It's a hard industry as it is to get staff," she said.
"Now, there's a lot of places struggling to get staff and I think that a reason why is because there was a lot of the unknown with whether you're going to have work."
"People can't commit when they don't know if they've got ongoing work."
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