Jessica Micallef and Tara Murray
A Sunbury restaurant owner says he will be $20,000 out-of-pocket due to an influx of Valentine’s Day cancellations after the state government announced a return to stage four COVID-19 lockdown.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced this afternoon that Victoria will begin a five-day lockdown from 11.59pm in response to the “hyper-infectious” UK variant of coronavirus.
Under stage four restrictions, restaurants are forced to offer takeaway services only until 11.59pm on Wednesday.
Vic’s Food and Wine owner Vic Scerri said Valentine’s Day was his restaurant’s third busiest day of the year after Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
“This is absolutely horrendous,” he said.
“Valentine’s Day is our third busiest day of the year and they have taken this away from us just like they took away Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.”
Mr Scerri said the nearly 400 reservations that had been made for February 14 had to now be cancelled.
“We had about 280 bookings for dinner on Valentine’s Day and about 100 bookings for lunchtime,” he said.
“People were already calling to cancel because of the Sunbury [COVID outbreak] scare.”
Mr Scerri estimated his restaurant will lose $20,000 as a result of being forced to close to dine-in customers.
“The staff morale has just dropped … and all our casuals will have to stay home,” he said.
“During the other lockdowns, we were on JobKeeper and now we have nothing so it’s going to be challenging times again
“The government is saying it’s [the lockdown] going to only be five days but anything can happen. It could for a week, it could go on for longer.”
People are also flocking to florists ahead of Valentine’s Day on Sunday.
A western suburbs florist, who didn’t want to be named, said that Valentine’s Day sets them up for the rest of the year.
She said she was unsure what the restrictions meant for her store, but was expecting to be limited to click and collect sales.
She said herself and staff have been working from 6am to 9pm in preparation for Valentine’s Day.
‘I’ve already paid for all the flowers,” she said.
“It’s at least $15,000 and I don’t know what is going to happen.
“There’s a lot of pressure on us as we’ve already purchased them. What if we can’t sell them?”
She said the lockdown was already causing stress and it was upsetting that people were again suffering.
“It’s having an impact mentally.”