Lockdown angst

Lockdown angst

Owner of the Metung Hotel, David Strange, has taken a swipe at Premier Dan Andrews’ lockdown on regional Victoria, saying it is unnecessary.
Mr Strange said it was disappointing to have to inform his 43 staff last week that the hotel would be closing for five days.
“They have bills to pay, it’s hurting them,” Mr Strange told the Lakes Post.
In a tweet Mr Strange put out on Sunday he implored the Premier to “let East Gippsland open”.
“We are dying here 350km from nearest case,” the tweet read.
Speaking to the Lakes Post on Monday, Mr Strange said: “My view on regional Victoria is we haven’t really had a case. When it (coronavirus) was at its highest, we managed it well down here.
Mr Strange said local businesses checked people’s drivers licenses in an effort to make sure that Melbournians didn’t slip through the net.
He said the Victorian Government had been dealing with coronavirus for 14 months, “surely that’s plenty of time to get all the weaknesses and positives sorted out”.
“We’ve been harping on about regional Victoria for 12 months,” Mr Strange said.
“I want to stress it’s not about me and the Metung Hotel, the business is strong, but it’s about my staff.”
Mr Strange said he also felt for small suppliers who “rely on us to buy their products”.
“They just lose their income, you can see it in their eyes when they come in, it’s just heartbreaking,” he said.
“A lot of people live week to week on their salary, if they don’t get it, the impact on them is just enormous.”
He said the Victorian Government needed to plan better “so areas can be shut down and not the whole state”.
“Put a ring of steel in and regulations to meet. We did all that last time, so why can’t we just do that again?” Mr Strange asked.
While the Metung Hotel resorted to giving food away when the announcement came through on Friday that the state would be locked down for five days, a lot also had to be tossed out.
Across the road at Aroma Café, manager Daniel Davies, said the lockdown had “a massive impact on us”.
“It’s really hard, we thrive on our local business, so we really struggle,” Mr Davies said.
While the café has resorted to takeaway, Mr Davies said it only generated a small percentage of business.
“We love having our customers in here, whether they’re locals or tourists,” he said.
Mr Davies said when the lockdown was announced, most of the food had to be thrown away.
“We had a whole degustation menu prepared for Valentine’s Day, it’s too hard to package that,” he said.
Mr Davies said cakes and produce also had to be ditched.
“I feel that we shouldn’t be locked down down here,” he said.
“The more dangerous areas are in Melbourne, there’s no cases here and we’re 3.5 hours away from where it’s all happening.”
At Effloresce Flowers and Café, owner Angela McCamley, told the Post: “It’s just the same again, we anticipated what was coming and we knew what to do”.
“We didn’t have many flowers because I don’t do Valentine’s, so what flowers I did have the locals bought. They’ve always supported me,” Mrs McCamley said.
She remained hopeful the lockdown wouldn’ t extend past Wednesday.
“The locals are back to eating cake because they’re in lockdown, so I’ll still be doing my Friday cakes,” she said.
HERE WE GO AGAIN
“We are back to square one, again,” is how Donna Davison, from Bloody Good Coffee in Lakes Entrance, described the latest COVID lockdown.
The coffee shop was fully stocked and looking forward to perfect weather for the Valentine’s Day weekend.
“We had catering jobs cancelled and all that food had to be thrown out,” owner Tina McGinty said. “We heard many motels were fully booked so put in larger orders and prepared for a big weekend.” But it was not to be as they saw half their normal takings evaporate. “It was so quiet we had to send two staff members home and close early,” Donna said.
“To do this when there are no regional cases is disappointing.”
Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest days of the year for florists and Lakes Entrance Florist reported that they were down to a third of the usual takings for this day.
“We missed out on a lot of last minute trade and the fact that it was so sudden meant we couldn’t cancel our most recent orders,” Lynne Hancock said.
“There were 150 roses left that had to be thrown out.
“It’s not just the flowers that we sell on this day but also jewellery, bears and gifts, men leave everything to the last minute and we missed out on their trade.
“Despite this, locals still came in and bought flowers to support us which we appreciated.”
Lynne said that their online business coped fine.
Many hotels and restaurants chose not to revert to takeaway as the announcement was so sudden and gave no time to set up.
Motels were also hit hard by the lockdown.
“Our motel was fully booked for the weekend and they all cancelled, it was so disappointing,” Danny Lee, manager of Banjo Patterson Motor Inn, said.
Danny is concerned the lockdown will be extended and continue for weeks.
He too questions the need for regional areas to be included in the stage four category.
“Last year was so hard and now 2021 is looking hard too,” he said.


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