Our lo­cal busi­nesses Beat­ing the Bug Many hands de­liver world class fa­cil­ity Are Lak­ers pre­miers? Tourism - jobs hit hard Yar­ra­wonga Health con­firms first pos­i­tive COVID-19 test

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JARED LOUGHNAN ROBERT MUIR

The lo­cal tourism in­dus­try, which has been the back­bone of busi­ness in the re­gion since the damming of Lake Mul­wala post World War II, is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its big­gest chal­lenge due to threat of the COVID-19 coro­n­avirus.

On Tues­day, Yar­ra­wonga Health (YH) con­firmed their first pos­i­tive test for COVID-19 in the Yar­ra­wonga re­gion. At the time of the Chron­i­cle go­ing to print YH was pre­par­ing a state­ment re­gard­ing the test.

Our three large li­censed clubs – ClubMul­wala, Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Golf Club Re­sort and Mul­wala Wa­ter Ski Club – were forced to close and with it many peo­ple are with­out work as a re­sult of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s di­rec­tion last week­end.

The list of restrictio­ns by the gov­ern­ment also lim­its cafes, restau­rants and ho­tels to only serve take­away and not seat cus­tomers. Cin­e­mas, gyms, churches and other place of wor­ship were also or­dered to close in or­der to stop the worldwide virus from spread­ing in Aus­tralia.

Bak­eries and butch­ers are still per­mit­ted to open for take­away only. Hair­dressers and other health re­lated busi­nesses are still open for busi­ness. Su­per­mar­kets, banks, phar­ma­cies, hos­pi­tals, doc­tor clin­ics, Vet clin­ics and petrol sta­tions re­main open. Be­fore en­try, cus­tomers or pa­tients are asked to read con­spic­u­ous mes­sages at some en­trances, in the in­ter­ests of ev­ery­one’s health.

Other busi­nesses in town also tak­ing a big hit in­clude the Yar­ra­wonga Hol­i­day Park. At the time of the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle go­ing to print, the an­nounce­ment came through that the Yar­ra­wonga Hol­i­day Park was to close at 5pm on Tues­day.

“We’ve had a lot of can­cel­la­tions and we had closed the park for Easter but now it is closed ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately un­til fur­ther ad­vised,” park man­ager Shaun Driscoll told the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle on Tues­day.

“It’s to pro­tect our tourists ob­vi­ously and do­ing what the gov­ern­ment wants us to do with all non-es­sen­tial to be avoided.”

With the threat of the coro­n­avirus spread­ing and sub­se­quent restrictio­ns im­posed by fed­eral and state govern­ments, it is im­por­tant for lo­cal busi­nesses to be sup­ported as much as pos­si­ble ac­cord­ing to Chair­man of Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Tourism and Busi­ness Doug Evans OAM.

“We don’t re­ally know the ef­fect on busi­ness,” he said.

“Clubs are clos­ing un­til May 31 which will have a ma­jor im­pact on peo­ple com­ing into town, be them hol­i­day­mak­ers or what­ever.

“It’s a day-by-day is­sue from the towns’ point of view. The im­pact’s go­ing to be ma­jor not only on ac­com­mo­da­tion but restau­rants and all other ar­eas of busi­nesses, and not only Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala but right through. It’s a wait­ing game.”

Mr Evans said it is im­por­tant for lo­cals to sup­port busi­nesses in Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala rather than busi­nesses out­side town.

“That sup­port can be given in var­i­ous ways, such as take­away food. The more sup­port the bet­ter,” he said.

“If some busi­ness is go­ing well, it can rub off onto other busi­nesses. We should try and help lo­cal busi­nesses and con­tinue to.”

Mul­wala Wa­ter Ski Club CEO Peter Dun­can said since the club closed its doors on Mon­day, he has had to let 55 ca­sual em­ploy­ees go and the re­main­ing 25 per­ma­nent staff will be kept on in some ca­pac­ity but he ex­pects will be asked to take any leave if nec­es­sary.

“The hard­est part is you know their fam­i­lies and see them all lo­cally.

“We have em­pa­thy for all our staff and our reg­u­lar mem­bers who will not be able to fre­quent the venue for some time.

“Staff rely on the club to assist in feed­ing their fam­i­lies, pay­ing bills and mort­gages.

“But we have en­sured them they will all have a job once this cri­sis is over,” Mr Dun­can said.

Golf is still on at Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Golf Club Re­sort – the 45-hole, largest pub­lic ac­cess golf course in Aus­tralia.

“Golf is still on – the course is still open,” act­ing CEO Peter Savy said. “The Pro Shop is open. The club’s not open.

“Our on-course ac­com­mo­da­tion is open and avail­able. But un­for­tu­nately, we’ve had a lot of can­cel­la­tions.”

Golf is also still on at the su­perb 18-hole Black Bull Golf Club. “We’re open for golf,” head pro­fes­sional James McCully said.

“Golf is open, the driv­ing range is open,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of golf can­cel­la­tions but we’re most def­i­nitely open for golf.”

Mul­wala’s pop­u­lar amuse­ment park Tun­za­fun in Mel­bourne Street has closed, fol­low­ing a meet­ing on Mon­day.

Park man­age­ment had been on the front foot with anti-bac­te­ria so­lu­tions. “We have anti-bac­te­ria so­lu­tions, in­stalled a hand-wash sta­tion and also have a spray for all ma­chin­ery and equip­ment af­ter each use,” Tun­za­fun Man­ager Phil Bott told the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle last week.

“We’ve done all we can to en­sure ev­ery­one’s health at Tun­za­fun. We look for­ward to peo­ple of all ages com­ing to and en­joy­ing our park.” But sadly, like some other or­gan­i­sa­tions, that can’t be the case un­til fur­ther no­tice.

Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala Visi­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre is still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a con­sid­er­able num­ber of tourists. “Vis­i­tors are still en­quir­ing about at­trac­tions,” Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Yar­ra­wonga/Mul­wala Tourism Noel Wright said.

“We have to fol­low up what’s open and what’s not and vol­un­teers at our cen­tre have the op­tion of com­ing in or not. Our num­ber of vol­un­teers is down and our café has closed for now, in line with gov­ern­ment di­rec­tions.”

Moira Shire Mayor Li­bro Mus­tica said ev­ery­one has a role to play in pro­tect­ing them­selves and oth­ers.

“Be a good ci­ti­zen and do the right thing, check on your neigh­bour or the el­derly and let them know they are not alone,” Cr Mus­tica said.

“Our Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Ma­ter­nal and Child Health and Com­mu­nity teams are speak­ing with busi­nesses, health cen­tres and res­i­dents and work­ing hard to put mea­sures in place to buf­fer the im­pact this pan­demic is caus­ing.”

Cr Mus­tica said Moira Shire Coun­cil’s Cus­tomer Ser­vice Cen­tres are still open at this stage how­ever coun­cil is urg­ing ev­ery­one to use email, web­site or phone con­tact first and only visit if the mat­ter is ur­gent. Visi­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tres are now closed as well as the sports sta­dium in Co­bram, the Nu­murkah Aquatic and Fit­ness Cen­tre and the Yar­ra­wonga Splash Park.

State Pre­miers and Chief Min­is­ters agreed that schools will re­main open through to the end of the cur­rent school terms to sup­port stu­dents whose par­ents choose to send their chil­dren to school. How­ever, Vic­to­ria’s school break com­menced on Tues­day, March 24.

All Lead­ers have com­mit­ted to re-open schools at the end of the school break, sub­ject to the ad­vice of the Aus­tralian Health Prin­ci­pal Pro­tec­tion Com­mit­tee.

Busi­nesses who have any questions about the restrictio­ns and as­sis­tance are en­cour­aged to con­tact the Busi­ness Vic­to­ria Coro­n­avirus hot­line on 13 22 15.

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