Lockdown pain for businesses


By Oliver Lees

Businesses across Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges are bracing for the impact of Victoria’s seven-day lockdown.

The ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown came into effect on May 28, after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases linked to a cluster in the City of Whittlesea doubled within a 24-hour period.

The stage 3 restrictions mean individuals have just five reasons to leave their home and non-essential retailers and hospitality businesses remain closed, except for takeaway and online purchases.

Sunbury Business Association president Michael Osborne said businesses are frustrated that they have lost their ability to plan for the future.

“The overwhelming feeling I’m getting from businesses is one of absolute frustration,” Mr Osborne said.

“Finally we gain some momentum and then they lock us down again. I feel especially sorry for sole traders and casual workers.

“Business is about looking forward and planning and it’s very difficult when you can no longer do that.”

Signature Allstarz dance company owner Amy Citroen has had to cancel her businesses’ first major performance in months.

Throughout 2020 Ms Citroen was eligible for the federal government’s JobKeeper payment supplement, however as of yet no financial support from the federal government has been announced for the latest seven-day lockdown.

During last year’s stage four lockdown Ms Citroen had to reinvent her business to fit an online format, she said the news of this latest circuit breaker was difficult for both her and her clients.

“It’s been really disappointing to have to take something away from the kids again and to be the person who tells them the bad news is really hard,” Ms Citroen said.

“This could knock a few of the parents around too, they might wonder why they bother paying for things when they can’t go ahead.”

The cluster linked to the City of Whittlesea has spread across Melbourne, growing to 30 cases as of Friday.

Thousands of people turned out for testing at sites across the state over the past week, while thousands more booked COVID vaccinations

The state recorded two consecutive days of its highest volume of processed COVID-19 tests, with more than 40,000 people tested.

Kyneton Health chief executive Maree Cuddihy, said the organisation’s Respiratory Assessment Clinic centre previously averaged 30-50 tests per day, but had recorded more than 300 tests the day the latest lockdown was announced.

“This is a massive amount of work for our nurses and the administration and environmental service staff who support them and I am extremely grateful for their hard work,” Ms Cuddihy said.

“I want to thank every single person who has called our hospital to organise a COVID-19 test.

“Quite simply, the only way we’re going to get on top of this virus is through the vaccination program. If you’re eligible, now is the time to get vaccinated.”

Pfizer vaccinations are now available for anyone aged 40 to 49.

Hume councillor Jarrod Bell urged eligible Victorians to get the jab.

“I implore anyone who fits the bill, if you are eligible, book for your vaccine today, if someone you love is eligible, make a plan together,” Cr Bell said.

“Vaccines are the only way we will get back to normal.”

For an updated list on coronavirus exposure sites, visit: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites