TWO Wodonga publicans believe the next step on Premier Daniel Andrews' road map to COVID-normal falls well short of the restrictions they successfully operated under before the state's second lockdown began seven weeks ago.
Regional pubs, cafes and restaurants have been among the hardest hit from Lockdown 2.0 caused by sky-rocketing coronavirus cases.
Before tougher stage three restrictions, pubs were operating to density limits of 20 people per room, patrons being seated at all times and handing over contact details in the event of a COVID outbreak from the venue.
Publicans Ben Stewart and Tom Weatherall said the government's decision-making lacked logic and specifics.
Mr Stewart and his business partner Lisa Ryan operate the Birallee Tavern and Wodonga Golf Club bar and bistro and the latter will remain shut for the foreseeable future despite the imminent move to step three.
"As a pub owner we know we have to give a bit because the world is not what it was," Mr Stewart said.
"The thing right now is people are emotionally and financially struggling and showing their anger.
"If we've done it correctly before it just seems absurd to shut down the whole area."
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Tom Weatherall, whose grand-parents moved to Wodonga nearly 90 years ago to run the family's first pub, has never encountered tougher business conditions.
He sees no short-term relief in coming days under step three on the road map.
"What we are supposedly heading to later this week is horrendously short of stage two," he said.
"Certainly In North-East Victoria we don't have a coherent case for a stage three lockdown.
"The government is offering money, but my argument is in as safe a regime as possible we need to re-open our businesses while taking into account the fact that we need to do it in the most meticulous and structured way.
"If you came to my pub there is no way I am going to let you hug, kiss, shake hands and not wear a mask."
There were no fresh coronavirus cases in regional Victoria reported on Monday with the 14-day average dropping to 3.9.