With the Australian Federal Government announcing mass closures of places at which we most frequently gather, Armidale businesses owners are digging their heels in to save years of investment.
Last night the Prime Minister announced what he called Stage 1. It meant certain non-essential businesses would be restricted from opening from midday on Monday, March 23:
- Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
- Gyms and indoor sporting venues
- Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
- Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
- Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the one person per four square metre rule applies)
These measures also applied to outdoor spaces associated with any of the venues.
Isolated remote community hubs were not included in these restrictions.
Crowds at many Armidale cafes were down on Monday morning even though there seemed to be an increase number of people carrying takeaway coffee and meals before noon.
One cafe owner said she was just uncertain about what to do.
"I suppose we will work together and just serve as much takeaway as we can," she said.
Another said he wished council health inspectors had not worn masks when they came to inspect his premises, and could have been more discrete.
"As soon as they came in here and announced they were health inspectors, everyone got up an left," he said.
Armidale Regional Council CEO Susan Law said people should not read anything the inspectors visiting food businesses, as it was part of council's overall plan.
One travel agent had what looked to be a full staff still working inside front doors with a "closed" sign on them.
The spokesman confirmed the office was not very busy at the moment. He remained very optimistic about the future of the business, however, and said the business had a plan to look after all its staff members no matter what.
Many businesses reported their trade had dropped, except those selling groceries. Even some of the smaller speciality food shops said they had increased sales and any of the small takeaway establishments were not doing to badly.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Armidale, and there never will be because Hunter New England Local Health District will neither confirm or deny its existence in specific towns or cities.
People were fearful, curious, hopeful puzzled and many were mindful of the needs of others. But all our businesses need to be thanked, wished good luck and congratulated for their leap into the future.