A Melbourne bar has been forced to introduce cancellation fees after being “crippled” by customers booking tables and not turning up.
Melbourne bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants were finally allowed to reopen at midnight on Tuesday after being in lockdown for more than 100 days. They are only allowed have up to 50 customers outdoors and 20 indoors.
In a post on Facebook, Cherry Bar – located in AC/DC Lane – wrote: “Cherry can only host 20 people inside at the moment. We have been taking bookings with no entry fee and no cancelation fee.
“Getting the full 20 people (that’s a mere 8% of our licensed capacity) is critical. Last night of the 20 bookings 13 were ‘no shows’. This is heartbreaking.
“From today we just have to introduce a $25 booking/holding fee, which will not be refunded if you don’t turn up. When you cripple us by booking and then not attending, well, we have to charge you $25 for not allowing us to fill one of our coveted spots.”
Followers were supportive of the move. As one noted: “So many people have rushed to make bookings anywhere they can without actually considering if they’ll go or not. They’re just making bookings in case they want to go. Really no way to support small businesses who are struggling.”
Another wrote: “Scumbags. There’s no excuse for not letting you know at the very least.”
AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson said as many as 75% of pubs may remain closed under the current restrictions.
“This extreme limit on capacity will not see many people back at work,” he noted. “A reasonable first step would have been to allow pubs to recommence with one patron per four square metres indoors and one patron per two square metres outdoors.
“These are the provisions in NSW and Queensland, which have enabled venues to maintain safe social distancing whilst getting employers and employees back on their feet. The systems are in place to allow a safe and meaningful reopening – just as they are doing in other states and territories.
“Victorian hotels have the systems in place to allow a safe and meaningful reopening – [this] announcement creates a façade of reopening when in reality many doors will remain closed, keeping staff at home and out of work and employers unable to pay the bills.”
Bars celebrate reopening
It’s been a busy week for the venues that have reopened. The phones started ringing before Premier Dan Andrews even finished his announcement about the lifting of lockdown.
“I’ve taken four phone calls [for bookings] while I was watching it,” pub manager Peter Appleby (above) at the Grand Hotel in Warrandyte, in Melbourne’s outer north-east, told ABC News.
Coburg’s Post Office Hotel Manager Tristan Jallais told news.com.au on Wednesday: “Midway through Daniel Andrews’ announcement, the phone started lighting up and we were getting email requests. By 10.30am Tuesday morning, we had booked Thursday, Friday and Saturday dinner out completely. It was insane. Folks are champing at the bit to dive in.”