Regional Victoria shakes off restrictions, but how many businesses will actually reopen?
Regional Victoria is emerging from its latest lockdown amid fresh fears the restrictions will make it too hard for businesses to reopen.
It's the seventh time regional Victorians have exited lockdown, however, the restrictions that remain are among the toughest faced.
While the five reasons to leave home and the 5-kilometre bubble are no more, the businesses that can reopen can only do so to limited numbers.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes are allowed no more than 10 indoor diners and 20 outdoor visitors at a time, while density limits are in place in other venues.
Masks must remain on for many beauty services including haircuts and indoor gyms remain closed.
Schools are reopening for face-to-face learning from Monday, but only to Year 12 students and those in prep to grade 2, meaning the majority of school-aged children will continue to study from home.
And some New South Wales local government areas are joining Victoria in emerging from lockdown, however, border-bubble arrangements will remain ongoing, despite the eased restrictions on both sides of the border.
Who will feed the weary?
Intrastate travel is back on the menu under strict conditions for regional Victorians.
About 4,000 people are expected to descend on the Grampians region across the next two weekends, but concerns remain about whether hospitality venues will be ready to cater for them.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said a number of local businesses were choosing not to open due to the current restrictions.
"We have a surge of visitors coming to the region, but we can't cater for them," Mr Sleeman said.
Those businesses that are opening have labelled the restrictions an "exercise in resilience".
“It'd be easier to not open frankly," said Piano Bar owner, Andy Pobjoy.
Warrnambool publican Steve Philpot is among those keeping his doors closed.
He can seat more than 460 people in his pub says seating just 10 patrons does not make sense.
"[With] previous restrictions we were in, it was one [person] per four square metres," Mr Philpot said.
"We could have 90-100 people in here.
However, numbers were not a problem in Brendan Wrigley's Ballarat coffee shop this morning.
Mr Wrigley said the small size of his cafe lent itself to the restrictions but said others were not as lucky.
He was happy to welcome back the regulars who had been away from his store during lockdown.
"You do get to know them," he said of the early rising customers.
V/Line infection raises fears
More than 100 V/Line staff are isolating after a train driver who worked at Southern Cross station and visited Traralgon station tested positive for COVID.
Several regional train lines have been disrupted as a result, including the Gippsland, Warrnambool Swan Hill and Albury lines.
The Department of Transport confirmed 110 operational staff have been isolating and that train line disruptions could last several weeks.
A number of NSW local government areas are set to come out of lockdown tomorrow, however, those that remain on the Victorian border will have to continue to abide by border-bubble restrictions.
As a result, residents on the Victorian-NSW border can only travel across border areas for permitted reasons, despite eased conditions in either state.
The Minister for Regional Development, Mary-Anne Thomas, says the NSW COVID case numbers are too high to consider removing the permit.
Gyms, grand finals in limbo
While outdoor sports training can resume in Victoria, it is not yet clear when the games teams are training for will be held.
Under the eased restrictions, people can train outside in small groups and outdoor gatherings of 10 people are permitted.
Personal trainers can also work in groups of 10 and utilise communal outdoor equipment, but indoor gyms remain tightly shut.
Ballarat gym owner Eric Morris said he believed his business would be able to open with strict COVID protocols in place.
"This announcement was another nail in the coffin," he said.
"Nothing in regional Victoria has changed apart from the Shepparton outbreak ... so it was a shock to find out we were being kept closed."
The state government has not revealed when regional Victorians can expect a further easing of restrictions.