HOTELS named as venues visited by people who later tested positive for coronavirus are struggling to bounce back to usual levels of trade.
Multiple pubs in the Hunter came under a spotlight in recent weeks after being named by NSW Health as places where COVID-19 cases visited while they were potentially infectious.
Once named, most venues shut for a deep clean and reopened a day or two later.
However, they were largely deserted in the days after reopening and some are still feeling the impact of the situation more than a week later.
Publican Steve Smyth said the Queens Wharf Hotel was named last Wednesday by NSW Health but authorities were not certain if the person who tested positive had been infectious at the venue.
He was told by health authorities that the venue would not need a deep clean, but he had one done "because of public perception".
Mr Smyth said punters abandoned the hotel after it was named and he was forced to stand down staff.
He said the situation had sent a "disturbing" level of panic "through the community" and the hotel's trade had been significantly impacted over the past week
"We weren't sure whether [the positive case] was infected [when they visited the venue] or not," he said.
"But at the end of the day, I'm just getting confused with the double standards.
"Hotels and clubs are probably the cleanest places to go to. We have police come in a couple of times every Saturday and Sunday and make sure we're self-distancing, everyone is seated, and we stick to our limit.
"I've got COVID-safe marshals and it's very professionally done. We just clean and clean and clean."
Mr Smyth said pubs and clubs were subject to tougher restrictions and greater scrutiny than other businesses. He also questioned why Hunter sports teams could regularly travel to Sydney.
"We have a duty of care for our customers and staff alike, something that is not as well practiced at supermarkets and other shopping outlets," he said.
"I went down to Westfield last Thursday to check it out and there were people everywhere.
"There was no registering [of names] and in the supermarket they can't distance properly because the isles aren't wide enough.
"If they're going to do anything they should make them one-way so people go the same way and don't pass each other. I thought that would be common sense."
Angus Harper, licensee of The Greenroof Hotel in Hamilton, agreed there probably was a "double standard". He said the measures in hotels like digital patron records likely made them safer than some other businesses.
The Greenroof was visited by a person who later tested positive for the virus for two hours on Friday, July 31.
Mr Harper said the pub closed for a deep clean and staff initially isolated before authorities advised the community transmission risk was low due to the short period the case was at the venue.
The pub reopened last Friday about 36 hours after being named but patronage dropped in the days after and is yet to return to what it was.
"It was quiet, which we expected, as it probably was for everyone who was named," Mr Harper said.
"We've seen a drop in trade over the last week or so, and that's just about rebuilding the confidence of the public.
'There's certainly a lot of people in the same or a worse boat than us, so we're not crying too foul, but at the same time we want people to go and support their local.
"Everyone is sort of struggling through this period."
Mr Harper said on Thursday trade was still "nowhere near" what it was and he expected it take "three or four weeks to build back up".
"I think it's not just being named ... it's a lot to do with everything that is going on in NSW and a bit of that hangover from Victoria," he said.
"People are just concerned about what is happening."
The Bennett Hotel was named at the same time as The Greenroof but has been closed since as most of the pub's staff had to isolate and there were not enough workers to keep the doors open.
"The person was in the venue for about five hours and Friday is our biggest night of the week," owner Dan Turner said.
"Ninety per cent of my staff were working that evening, which meant they - myself included - had to go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days.
"We just had no other option but to close."
Mr Turner said the closure was a blow in an already "tough year" but he was comfortable with shutting down as most of the hotel's regulars likely wouldn't have attended the venue over the past two weeks as they had been advised to self-isolate.
The Herald spoke to other hotels which were named as venues where a case visited and they reported similar periods of reduced trade.
The Bennett reopens this Saturday.
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