Smiles all round, as Melbourne hospitality workers remove their masks

“It’s a tricky one,” she said. “We should have more support for people who still have to quarantine and for business owners too, because you pay a sick wage and then you have to pay a wage for someone to come and cover them. It’s a double whammy for hospitality.”

Pinchy's staff will be able to serve customers without wearing masks after restrictions change at 11.59pm on Friday.

Pinchy’s staff will be able to serve customers without wearing masks after restrictions change at 11.59pm on Friday.

For Pinchy’s Lobster and Champagne Bar manager Malcolm Singh, the rule changes create hope that more patrons will return to venues in the city.

Singh said he’d “love to see the workforce come back into the city in full force,” with the rule changes making for a better hospitality experience for everyone.

“I think it’s just going to be fun,” he said.

Paris Emini was working with her mask on during Friday’s lunch hour rush at Japanese takeaway restaurant, Potto, next to Southern Cross Station.

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The 22-year-old said she was happy the rule change brought mask requirements for hospitality workers into line with customers.

“In hospitality, you’re coming in contact with a lot of people anyway,” she said. “No one else is wearing masks and it feels a bit redundant if we are, although I understand why. It’s about time.”

While not having to wear masks in a busy kitchen environment will bring some relief for workers, Emini said she was not comfortable serving unvaccinated customers. Her workplace’s location next to a major transport hub made the changes feel like a “higher risk”.

“I think, especially if we’re not going to wear masks, I think we need to be vaccinated, I feel like that should be the compromise … If we’re lucky enough not to wear masks, the least we can do is be vaccinated to make sure everyone’s safe.”

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