THE closure of a popular roadhouse on the route between Tamworth and Port Macquarie has limited the fuel stop options for tourists ahead of the summer months.
Locals looking to lap up the sun or a weekend getaway are being urged to plan ahead after the Gingers Creek Roadhouse was forced to close temporarily due to COVID-19 concerns.
"Loyal customers and visitors, we are very sorry to inform you but as of this afternoon, Monday 12th October, we are forced to close for at least the next month," the business owners said on social media.
"We had a visit from the police, which has now resulted in fines due to Covid-19 rules, we thought we were doing everything right but unfortunately not.
"Huge sorry to everyone but no choice has been left."
The roadhouse's closure is bad news for holiday makers, who will now have to fill up at Walcha or wait until Wauchope.
Walcha's Transwest Fuels operator Ben Clifton said while the roadhouse's closure would have little impact on his business, he did expect traffic from the region to the coast to skyrocket in the coming months.
"We really feel for the guys at Gingers Creek, but I don't think it will change things for us too much," Mr Clifton told the Leader.
"I think people will be prepared before they set off on a trip to the coast, but if they do want to stop and fill up with us while checking what Walcha has to offer, that would be great too.
"In my opinion, a lot more people are going to look at more traditional holiday options by road in the coming months due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting air travel options.
"We've seen it already because we operate a petrol station in Foster and over the long weekend our sales were about twice they would normally be."
The Ginger's Creek roadhouse also pointed to compliance issues with the site's underground petrol storage as a reason for the closure.
"We also have local council hassling us over the underground fuel storage, can no longer be underground so we have to bring in shipping containers to do it right," the business said.
"Last but not least, we have the accommodation to finish after loosing the cabin in the bushfire.
"We will keep you up to date with progress."
A Port Macquarie-Hastings Council spokesperson said the business was given options to help make the site compliant.
"We've undertaken inspections of sites with underground fuel tanks following the responsibility for their regulation coming to all councils from the EPA last year," the spokesperson said.
"Inspections are carried out to ensure that sites comply with the legislation by having appropriate monitoring in place to alert of potential contamination occurring from leaks and yes we have been out on this site.
"Some owners are decommissioning their underground tanks - but this is not always essential and this particular site was provided with options of retaining or replacing the tanks and given a timeframe until February to comply."