BACK IN BUSINESS
Shepparton business owners were all smiles under their face masks as they welcomed back customers yesterday.
Greater Shepparton sprang to life yesterday as many businesses opened for the first time in a month, with zero new cases of COVID-19 in the city and just 22 active cases remaining.
The team behind Shepparton health food restaurant Nourish worked through the night to prepare food for the reopening, after the end-of-lockdown announcement left them with less than 24 hours to get ready.
Nourish owner Nick Raftellis said he decided to shut down entirely during the latest lockdown to help keep the community safe.
‘‘There were too many cases here so it was safer to stay closed,’’ he said.
Store manager Ruby Johnstone said it was tough work reopening at short notice, although it was worth it to see friendly familiar faces over the counter.
‘‘It was really stressful, I like to be organised and this morning was just chaotic,’’ she said.
The Fryers St shopfront was humming all day and Mr Raftellis was grateful to see customers returning so quickly post-lockdown.
Down the street, Lemon Tree Cafe’s Josh Demaio was busy running long-awaited cups of barista-made coffee to chatty tables.
Friends and families were all smiles as they enjoyed company, caffeine and spring sunshine.
Regular customers were ready and waiting at Shepparton’s Focus Cards and Gifts before owner Peter Dunbabin turned the lights on at 9 am.
He said missing out on Father’s Day trade due to the lockdown was a big blow and government business support payments only eased the pain up to a point.
Mr Dunbabin was grateful for the financial support which helped him reopen and, most importantly, to keep staff employed, but it was ‘‘nowhere near’’ matching the cost of lockdown.
Meanwhile, the staff at Renato’s Florist could barely catch a breath as they hit the ground running on their first day of normal trade.
Josie Renato said she had sorely missed sharing a human interaction with customers instore and she was happy to be fully vaccinated, playing her part to keep the community safe.
In Mooroopna, Pampens Boutique retail assistant Heather McArthur said people were thrilled to be out and about.
Owner Margie Warnett spent the morning ironing new season’s stock and, having missed a month of winter trade, she’d had to heavily discount cold weather clothing.
Garry Alexander was shopsitting Dollar Yen for his wife on Thursday and he was relieved to see foot traffic for the first time in weeks.
‘‘Mooroopna has been a ghost town,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t want to see another lockdown.’’