Australians who fancy a fine drop may have been forced out of their favourite bar, but one Brisbane business is bringing wine tastings into people's homes.
Bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants were forced to close their doors or limit themselves to takeaway to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Unable to open their venue, which caters for 300 patrons and opened only a year ago, Brisbane's City Winery lost its bookings.
It is now balancing some of its losses after its plan to introduce experiences into people's living rooms took off.
"We just thought, now is the time to be bullish and now is the time to try new things and it's paid dividends," City Winery co-founder Adam Penberthy told AAP.
Sales for at-home events like food and wine pairing, virtual cooking classes, wine and cheese tasting and wine blending workshops, including an online session with their winemaker, have increased by about 400 per cent.
"The COVID-19 period has been an awful thing for the world, but it has forced us to think innovatively," Mr Penberthy said.
As cafes and restaurants gear up to allow up to 10 dine-in patrons at a time from Saturday, the micro-winery's phones are ringing off the hook, with bookings now full until mid-June.
"We are beyond thrilled and beyond excited to be opening," Mr Penberthy said.
In some parts of Australia, allowing even small numbers of patrons to dine on site will bring in extra cash for smaller venues limited to take-away meals, says Restaurant and Catering Industry Association chief executive Wes Lambert.
But Australian Hotels Association chief executive Stephen Ferguson said the one-size-fits-all approach isn't going to work for all businesses.
With high fixed costs like refrigeration and air conditioning, it's not viable for many hotels to open for such small numbers of diners.
The AHA has called on government to allow venues to open while adhering to 1.5 metre social distancing and restrictions around the numbers of people per four square metres.
"Our members are disappointed they have not been provided with that opportunity," Mr Ferguson told AAP.
"That's especially the case in 170 local government areas across Australia that have been COVID-free."
Meanwhile United Workers Union national secretary Tim Kennedy says strict measures are needed to ensure workers are safe when they return.
He has called for mandatory training for all hospitality staff before venues can re-open, and paid pandemic leave to ensure people don't go to work out of economic need if they are sick.
Mr Kennedy says workers must be able to report non-compliance to the state government so that businesses adhere to regulations.
"Without reporting mechanisms in place the health of both patrons and employees could be jeopardised," he said.
Australian Associated Press
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