End of lockdown crowds to drink Oberon dry

By Tiffanie Turnbull
Manager Amber Obernier is preparing to reopen the Royal Hotel in Oberon when NSW restrictions ease. (AAP)

Oberon is going to run out of beer.

The small town in the NSW Central Tablelands is the heart of one of the few local government areas in the state where lockdown restrictions lift on Saturday.

Dining out, going to the gym, weddings and household gatherings are back on the agenda.

But those who want to celebrate will have to get in early, the Royal Hotel's Amber Obernier says.

Within hours, revellers will drink the place dry.

One of three pubs and clubs in the town, the Royal Hotel is running desperately low on the liquid gold after four weeks under stay-at-home orders.

The other two venues are in the same boat, she said, unable to secure stock in the two days' notice given by the government when they announced restrictions would ease on Thursday.

The announcement brought relief, but also panic.

"I couldn't believe it," she told AAP.

"It actually made me feel a bit sick in the stomach because I was like 'Oh my gosh, we're just not prepared for this'.

"You know that excited, but so-nervous-you're-sick feeling."

They're already booked out for Saturday night, and it's been a "mad rush" to get as ready as possible before doors open.

With other parts of the Central Tablelands like Orange and Bathurst weathering outbreaks and remaining in lockdown, Ms Obernier is also worried about rule breakers.

Patrons at the hotel will only be able to enter through one door, and will each have their address checked to confirm they live in the local government area.

But that's a shadow of the worry locals feel for what happens once the state reaches 70 per cent vaccination coverage and regional travel is allowed again.

"I was talking to a few local shop owners this morning and it does make us nervous," Ms Obernier said.

Staff will have to check everyone is fully vaccinated, a conversation that can spark abuse, and any outbreak in the town could overwhelm it, she says.

"I mean, we want to get back to normal but we don't want the virus here in the town," she said.

"We wouldn't be able to cope."

But after the "terrible" reality of lockdown - during which the venue offered take-out options, operating at a loss to keep staff employed - any change is welcome.

"Beggars can't be choosers," Ms Obernier said.

"We're just happy to unlock the doors.

"It's going to be so good to see people again."


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