Devastation for businesses has lockdown six bites

Devastation for businesses has lockdown six bites
Brendan Rees

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp says the latest lockdown “is having a devastating impact on city businesses” with some owners choosing to close up for good.

“Even the most resilient of small business owners are struggling to stay positive and prepare themselves for bounce-back six,” she said.

“We know that the quickest way out of this lockdown in Melbourne is for every Melburnian to do the right thing and follow the health advice.”

“And the best way to reduce the likelihood of further lockdowns is to get vaccinated and encourage someone else to.”

“However, many business owners are making daily decisions as to whether they continue opening or close up for good. We need all levels of government working together and our community supporting every local business that we can.”

Among business owners to reach breaking point was Linda Chen, owner of the café called Affinity On Errol in North Melbourne, who said, “I’m actually thinking how we’re going to survive”.

Ms Chen told North West City News that its daily revenue – from selling take away – was down 50 per cent on normal trade.

“There’s literally no-one on the street, and it’s been dead quiet,” she said on a Monday’s trade.

“It’s just hard. How long can we actually do this for?”

She said she and her business partner had reduced staff hours and were just trying to keep their heads “above the waters”.

Duy Tran of Butcher Shop Café in West Melbourne said it was also going through a difficult time.

“No-one is on the street, everyone stays home,” he said. “It’s just the local people.”

“I can count the people [customers] on my hand every day.”

Mr Tran said he was not turning over a profit and was paying staff “from our pocket”.

“We can’t afford [staff] but we have to because it’s not fair for them. Most of them have a family.”

He said his daily revenue had plunged by an 80 per cent drop during the sixth lockdown and he and his wife Tina were struggling to stay afloat.

“We try as much as we can until we cannot. Not much we can do.”

Marita Smith, president of the North and West Melbourne Precinct Association, said the impact of the lockdown had been “shattering” for businesses.

“We seem to be hit a lot harder because we are missing out on all of that activity as the consequence of people in the CBD just not being able to come into work,” she said.

“We’re hoping the lockdown will end as soon as possible and we can all get back to some normality.”

“With vaccination rates going up that’s obviously going to happen soon, we hope.”

Ms Smith said a visible campaign would soon be launched to encourage people to shop locally, which she hoped will “start to create a bit of energy, which is what we need” •

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