South-west tourism and accommodation workers are going without pay as businesses are forced to operate with minimum staff, despite coronavirus restrictions in regional Victoria easing.
Melburnians will remain restricted from visiting regional Victoria until after the Queen's Birthday holiday, stemming the virus spread but keeping tourist dollars away.
Warrnambool's Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Springs co-owner Gene Seabrook said the hotel was operating at about 15 per cent capacity.
"They may as well have kept the state locked down, we can't do any business without Melburnians travelling," Mr Seabrook said.
He has stood down 95 staff without pay, including workers at his Mid City Motel.
"I really feel for the staff, they are confused," Mr Seabrook said.
An end to JobKeeper in March meant stood-down workers could not receive the payments during the past week's lockdown.
A "temporary COVID disaster payment" revealed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday is to be available to eligible people in coronavirus hotspot areas, not including regional Victoria.
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said his government was working to increase support for regional tourism and accommodation providers, but said support for workers was a federal responsibility.
Port Campbell Southern Ocean Villas casual housekeeper Julie McKenzie said this week she worked only four hours, losing about $350 of her usual wage.
"I am just buying the bare essentials," Ms McKenzie said. "I am just lucky my husband is earning a wage, otherwise if I was doing it on my own I wouldn't survive."
Southern Ocean Motor Inn owner Asip Memishi said he was going to pay his five casual staff a few hundred dollars each this week, despite having no work for them.
"If we lose them, we may as well just close up. It's so hard to get them and train them. It's their wellbeing as well."
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