Walsh's Hotel in Queanbeyan has been a place of solace for locals and out-of-towners alike for almost 140 years. A place to pull up a stool, lean against the polished timber bar and order a cold beer after a long day.
The hotel has been a haven from the trials and tribulations of daily life since 1885.
Now, as NSW COVID-19 restrictions ease, co-owner Michael Bagley aims to continue this notion by only allowing fully vaccinated patrons and staff into the pub.
Mr Bagley made this decision, recommended by the NSW Australian Hotels Association, to protect his staff and customers.
As of Wednesday, NSW residents who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 could enjoy the same freedoms as the vaccinated including attending pubs, clubs and bars.
"Many of our regular patrons are hoping there isn't an influx of COVID-19 cases," he said.
"All I can do is protect our business, our staff and our patrons. The minority of people who are not vaccinated will not impact our business.
"We've been trading really well since COVID-19, we aren't looking for any more revenue, we are just looking to stay safe."
In addition, for NSW masks are now only required to be worn on public transport, in airports and for unvaccinated front of house and hospitality staff.
These changes came as a relief for many other businesses in Queanbeyan.
On Point Hair second-in-charge Madison Corbin welcomed the relaxed rules.
She said customers would feel freer without masks and it would be easier to cut and style hair.
The business will be serving unvaccinated patrons, however strict sanitising, social distancing and other COVID safe measures will still be in place.
Despite only being able to serve fully vaccinated patrons over the past few months, the hairdresser is fully booked until after Christmas.
Vanilla Pod Food and Espresso Bar owner Nishan Josan looked forward to an uptick in business.
He said the majority of his customers were elderly and welcomed the end of the mask mandate, as some people found it difficult to wear masks due to breathing problems.
The business-owner expected a significant increase in customers from lunchtime on Wednesday.
To survive over lockdown the business started home delivery services. Mr Josan said this decision enabled the cafe to "to get through".
"If we had closed we [would] lose all our regular customers."
He said the business, located in Riverside Plaza, was surrounded by vacant shops that closed over this period and as a result "not many people come inside for shopping".
For the ACT travel restrictions and quarantine requirements changed as of 11.59pm Wednesday. Except for close contacts of interstate cases, there will no longer be any restrictions on interstate travel to the ACT. In addition, close contacts of Omicron variant cases will now be required to follow the same quarantine requirements as all other close contacts.
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