Shepparton News

Mixed reaction on roadmap

- By Rosa Ritchie

Greater Shepparton business owners have mixed feelings about travelling a roadmap to recovery where nothing is set in stone — some are cautiously optimistic, some are anxious, others are agitated.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday outlined a plan to slowly ease restrictio­ns as the state hits key vaccinatio­n targets — with a crucial caveat being that opening up mustn’t overwhelm the health system.

Consequent­ly, there will be a ‘‘guard rail’’ in place, allowing the public health team to adjust restrictio­ns if hospital admissions become too high.

Three months ago, Shepparton Club Lime manager Tegan Fairley told The News she was ‘‘incredibly anxious’’ as regional Victoria emerged from a lockdown and gyms were left closed.

Yet another lockdown later, Ms Fairley can open the facility with restricted hours and a cap of 10 patrons, but she doesn’t feel relief. ‘‘I don’t know how I am, I don’t know how to feel about a lot of things anymore, I feel this really uncertain disassocia­tion with a lot of things,’’ she said.

Ms Fairley is working from 6 am to 7 pm most days, because the gym must be constantly supervised to ensure no more than 10 visitors enter.

Club Lime had 513 members before the latest lockdown, which triggered more than 100 cancellati­ons — about a dozen of which were in protest after Ms Fairley posted on social media that she was vaccinated.

‘‘They were anti-vaxxers and they didn’t want to support a business where staff were vaccinated,’’ she said. ‘‘It just feels yuck.’’ As restrictio­ns ease, Victoria will transition to what the Premier describes as a ‘vaccinated economy’, with access to venues like restaurant­s and gyms available only to those who are double dosed.

Head chef and owner of Mooroopna’s Bill and Beats, Chris Buzza, said the government needed to provide clarity about his obligation as a business owner.

‘‘There’s some things that they really need to lay out better — the big one for me is the vaccinatio­n of workers,’’ he said.

Mr Buzza dreaded the thought of having to let go of unvaccinat­ed staff, and he was concerned about having to police the vaccinatio­n status of customers. Meanwhile, the current capacity limit of 10 customers indoors is ‘‘a bit ridiculous’’ in Mr Buzza’s sizeable venue which fits 250 at a time.

With limited space indoors at Welsford Street Cafe, owner Mandy Gooley said she was surprised restrictio­ns on outdoor dining would remain tight for at least a month.

But ultimately she was relieved to have a plan.

‘‘Whether you like it or you don’t like it, even if you wished for more, at least you know what it is,’’ she said.

Mrs Gooley said switching to predominan­tly outdoor dining was a lot more work, but it also provided better protection from the virus for her staff.

‘‘When we get to 80 per cent fully vaccinated and the walls come down, the virus will surge and cases will surge — hospitalit­y workers are at the frontline of that,’’ she said.

Trelly’s Outdoor owner Steve Threlfall said he didn’t have confidence in the roadmap because the goal posts kept shifting.

‘‘It feels to be another bureaucrat­ic view from their side of things — we’re talking about a premier who’s never worked a day in his life in his own business,’’ he said.

Sam Scarpari of Bicaro’s restaurant said he was ‘‘cautiously optimistic’’ about the proposed roadmap.

‘‘The roadmap is a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, being able to plan for the warmer months,’’ he said.

‘‘But I say that with trepidatio­n because we haven’t seen this executed yet.

‘‘The more they stop and start us the harder it is to succeed and move on.’’

At Sawadee Thai Massage, owner Ayr Ryan was too busy to stop and talk, with loyal clients eager to ease aches and pains post-lockdown.

Meanwhile, her husband and bookkeeper Kevin Ryan was at peace with the lockdowns which stopped the massage and beauty industry in its tracks.

‘‘Everyone’s safety should come first, I think,’’ he said. ‘‘It is what is it — your life’s more important, and your health.’’

 ??  ?? Cautiously optimistic: Sam Scarpari says it takes too much energy to be negative, although he’s not holding his breath when it comes to the roadmap.
Cautiously optimistic: Sam Scarpari says it takes too much energy to be negative, although he’s not holding his breath when it comes to the roadmap.
 ??  ?? Little relief: Tegan Fairley, who manages Club Lime, lost more than 100 members due to the lockdown.
Little relief: Tegan Fairley, who manages Club Lime, lost more than 100 members due to the lockdown.

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