Shepparton News

Business owner left deflated

REBOUND PARK OWNER HOLDING ON TO HOPE

- By Rosa Ritchie

The reprieve between lockdowns in Shepparton was so brief it barely gave some business owners enough time to reopen, including Vikram Patel of Rebound Ultimate Trampoline Park and Play Centre on the Goulburn Valley Hwy.

Mr Patel monitored the public health orders and Victorian Government press releases with forensic attention in the lead-up to the state’s population passing the COVID-19 vaccinatio­n milestone of 80 per cent having had a single dose.

The roadmap for regional Victoria stated indoor physical recreation facilities, including trampoline centres, could open with 10 people per facility once 80 per cent of Victorians were partially vaccinated.

‘‘We were here, we cleaned everything, we were ready to go,’’ Mr Patel said of the days before the threshold was passed on September 28.

But on the evening of

Sunday, September 26, Mr Patel read conflictin­g advice.

The table of restrictio­ns that came into effect on September 29, published by the office of Premier Daniel Andrews on September 26, explicitly stated indoor trampoline centres in regional Victoria were not to reopen.

‘‘It’s mixed messaging all the time,’’ he said.

‘‘I told my staff, ‘Hopefully we are back again’, but no.’’

The voicemail inbox at Rebound could hold only 99 messages and was constantly full during the last week of the holidays, with Shepparton families eager to make the most of what turned out to be a brief break from lockdown.

Mr Patel was confused — he didn’t want to do the wrong thing or receive a hefty fine, he didn’t know which document to believe.

He called the relevant hotlines and was advised not to open, so Rebound’s doors stayed firmly shut until a breakthrou­gh call to Business Victoria.

Mr Patel got the all clear to reopen on September 30 from the Victorian Government office for business owners and, for two days until Shepparton’s lockdown on October 2, he was able to host 10 patrons at a time.

The capacity limits prevented Mr Patel from turning a profit, but he said it was worth it to welcome a few customers.

Meanwhile, debt is mounting, despite successful applicatio­ns to business support grants.

‘‘It’s a huge cost to run this place,’’ Mr Patel said.

‘‘From a business point of view, if a business doesn’t make money you have to shut it.

‘‘The staff lose their jobs, they have to find something else. It’s hard on everyone.’’

For now, Mr Patel, who works a second job to stay afloat, refuses to call it quits, holding on to hope that the path along the rest of the roadmap isn’t as rocky.

‘‘I want to keep this because it’s a really good business for kids — it’s a good place for kids,’’ he said.

 ?? ?? Hurting: Rebound Ultimate Trampoline Park and Play Centre owner Vikram Patel says he can’t think straight with the stress of trying to save his struggling business.
Hurting: Rebound Ultimate Trampoline Park and Play Centre owner Vikram Patel says he can’t think straight with the stress of trying to save his struggling business.

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