Road map out of lockdown offers “glimmer of hope”

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Brendan Rees

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp says Victoria’s road map out of lockdown offers “a glimmer of hope for traders” as pandemic restrictions are due to be eased by late October.      

Pubs, restaurants, and cafes as well as entertainment venues would be able to open outdoors with a limit of 50 fully vaccinated people under the state government’s “cautious” road map. Hairdressing would also return for the fully vaccinated with a maximum of five people in a salon at one time.

It comes as the city’s lockdown is forecast to end around October 26 and the curfew scrapped when 70 per cent of the Victorians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cr Capp welcomed the news saying it “outlined the first few important steps towards reopening”, but added the council was “doing everything we can to get Victorians vaccinated as soon as possible so we can bring forward the steps in the road map”.

“The City of Melbourne is working tirelessly with businesses so that we’re ready to bring back the buzz as soon as we reopen,” she said.

 

We are determined to turn the city inside out by bringing indoor hospitality and trading outside onto our beautiful streets so that traders can welcome back more patrons and customers sooner.

 

Sandra Nardo, manager of women’s clothing store, Husk Carlton, said her team was “looking forward to a bigger and brighter future” under the road map.

“Before it was the unknown … now at least we have an idea,” she said after hearing the news that retail could reopen when the state reached 80 per cent vaccination, presumed to be around November 5.   

“Definitely determined to get through this. We have a date in mind and we’re just working towards that.”

Ms Nardo said her shop had currently been operating three days a week with a concierge service for click and collect while “doing whatever we can to the best of our ability” to boost their sales.

“It’s hard as a business, I’ve got to be innovative constantly every week, she said, adding clients couldn’t wait “to be free to have a look and just a nice friendly chat” and had her “fingers crossed” retail could reopen just in time for Christmas and “to have that buzz back”.

Il Gusto owner Ali Elbatt said his Italian restaurant on Lygon St had been hit “really hard” and “we wish that lockdown finishes and it comes back to normal”.

“I’m here for 40 years and I’ve never seen something like that,” he said of the many shops closing around him.

Paul Tasca, who owns Bottega Tasca, a family-run wine shop also in Lygon St, said while he was fortunate his shop had remained open, he believed it was still “a long road ahead” for restaurants and eateries.

“It’s definitely encouraging [the road map] but until you can get people back into the restaurants and the cafes that is when it will really take off,” he said.

 

It’s very quiet. We need the shops open, and we need the retail back so people can get back into the street – that’s what we’re looking forward to.

 

Gianni Marchesani, manager at Bedggood & Co café in East Melbourne, said his business was “happy to accept whatever is in front of us” in relation to the road map out of lockdown “and we’ll go with the flow”.

“No point jumping up and down … these are not ideal situations, but you’ve got to make the best out of it, and we’re pretty positive,” he said. 

“We’re fortunate in the area we’re in and we’ve got some really good customers that support us really well.”

Meanwhile, the Lord Mayor said the council would “look forward to more information regarding the reopening steps beyond December”.

“This will be integral for businesses going forward so they can look forward to operating more normally,” Cr Capp said. 
“We are also seeking clarity for the arts sector, such as theatres, museums and galleries.”

Once Victoria reaches its 80 per cent double-dose target, retail and beauty services can reopen for the fully vaccinated and hospitality can resume indoors for up to 150 people.

At their September 21 meeting, City of Melbourne councillors voted unanimously in support of introducing of a “health pass” system to safely reopen hospitality, arts and entertainment venues sooner.

Small business portfolio lead Cr Jason Chang, who runs a Japanese grocery store and restaurant in the CBD, described the lockdown as “absolutely horrible” and believed the roadmap out of lockdown “doesn’t go far enough”.

“We are left with small steps forward with many businesses not being able to withstand another six weeks of closures,” he said.

Restaurant and Catering Australia CEO Wes Lambert said “businesses genuinely risk closure” if patron caps under the road map remained “impossibly low” for venues that did not have outdoor dining.   

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra also said “many businesses will not make it through” if they remained closed until November when Victoria hit the 80 per cent double vaccination target.

“Victorian businesses wanted a pathway to prosperity, but instead we got a roadmap with roadblocks,” he said. •

Caption: Il Gusto owner Ali Elbatt said he looked forward to welcoming back diners to his Italian restaurant on Lygon St.

Caption: Sandra Nardo, manager of women’s clothing store, Husk Carlton, has her fingers crossed retail can reopen in November.

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