Regional Victorians are traversing the state in support of tourist towns, but the loss of two big long weekends will be felt in places like Ovens.
The AFL grand final and Melbourne Cup public holidays are traditionally busy weekends for Alpine Shire.
Australian Pumpkin Seeds on Great Alpine Road is popular with Melburnians and business development manager Marcus Warner said the demographic of visitors was completely different now.
"We track where people are coming from from a COVID perspective, and when you look at the postcodes, they are not normal day visitors," he said.
"That's good, because it reaches a new market, and once our restrictions ease, our traditional visitors will come back, I'm sure.
"Most of our day visitors have been from Shepparton, Corowa, right across to Echuca and Gippsland.
"We've had people staying weekends in Bright from Wangaratta or Beechworth, which is so unusual.
"We've never seen so many people up from Geelong."
The addition of Ovens to the NSW border bubble at the start of October saw the return of NSW visitors.
Mr Warner said while shopfront visitation has been well-down, online sales have been going strong.
Their busy period kicks off in September and the team were planting the first of five million pumpkin seedlings this week.
"If we see slow easing of restrictions in November, we will not come up for air until June," he said.
"We're staying positive - in the next 18 months, a lot of travel will be in regional areas.
"The lucky thing with our business is we're three or four businesses in one.
"Bright's done a lot tougher than Myrtleford, you're seeing businesses 70 to 80 per cent down on revenue.
"And then, Sunday afternoon, business owners are on the phone because they thought regional Victoria would be opened a little bit more, and they [the government] didn't."
Further along Great Alpine Road in Porepunkah, Ringer Reef Winery has also been supported by regional visitors.
Mark and Julie Holm can now have 70 people outdoors at their cellar door.
"It's just the right amount of busy, to ease back into it," Mrs Holm said.
"Melbourne Cup is busier [than Grand Final Day].
"But if it's a nice day, people do come out.
"We did notice straight away that we got people from Albury once Porepunkah was included in the bubble."
Like so many North East businesses, lost revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions has been compounded by bushfire impacts.
"We lost all our crop with smoke taint," Mr Holm said.
"It's a funny year, because if we'd traded as normal through Easter, we'd have run out of a lot of our wines already.
"The most important thing on the wish-list is to have a good vintage this year."
It remains unclear when Melburnians will be able to travel again, but November has been flagged for the removal of checkpoints.
"We've never taken bookings before, at all. It's probably been a positive for us," Mr Holm said.
"For us, the numbers we've been working with have been quite ideal.
"It's been a relief, to start to do business again."
Tourists unable to visit 'killing business'
The Victorian Tourism Industry Council says restrictions need to be eased as a matter of urgency as Alpine accommodation providers miss out on Spring bookings.
Coach House Inn owner Brendan Cudmore said the reopening of Victoria had happened much too slowly.
"I've had cancellations all through November because of the uncertainty," he said.
"There's reticence to even book at Christmas because they're hearing 'you may be able to travel before Christmas'.
"There was one case yesterday, three today ... it's time to open.
"NSW is like a different country."
Mr Cudmore said there would normally be a couple thousand people in Bright around this time of year.
"The accommodation is full and towns are vibrant, but not at the moment," he said.
"It's killing business."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Victoria Tourism Industry Council chief executive Felicia Mariani issued a statement in response to the latest changes to restrictions which still limited metropolitan residents to 25 kilometres' travel.
"Businesses large and small were hoping for a lifeline of income from the upcoming Grand Final and Melbourne Cup long weekends," she said.
"These are peak periods that, yet again, the industry will lose.
"We need the Andrews Government to recognise and respect the work and effort the industry is putting in to its CovidSafe planning and be given the chance to be a partner in revitalising Victoria's economy."
Porepunkah Pines Holiday Park owner Jenny Johnston said regional Victorians had been booking in since restrictions were lifted five weeks ago.
"We've had good coverage from the Geelong and Gisborne areas, they're a large portion of our business at the moment," she said.
"They're happy to be up here.
"The weather [forecast] has knocked out a lot of our camping and caravan sites, which was unfortunate because it was looking really good.
"But you can't beat the weather.
"We need the big green light and we'll be off and running again."