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Australia Businesses count costs, fearing Victoria's snap lockdown will last longer than five days

07:30  15 february  2021
07:30  15 february  2021 Source:   msn.com

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a person standing in front of a table: Rose Gibaldi (left) says Melbourne's third coronavirus lockdown has come as a huge blow to her Lygon Street business. (ABC News Breakfast: Madeleine Morris) © Provided by ABC Business Rose Gibaldi (left) says Melbourne's third coronavirus lockdown has come as a huge blow to her Lygon Street business. (ABC News Breakfast: Madeleine Morris)

Businesses in inner Melbourne say they are reeling after the loss of what was expected to be a bumper weekend's trade during Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year and the Australian Open.

Instead, florists, retailers and hospitality businesses are tallying up their losses and throwing out stock.

Rose Gibaldi from cafe-restaurant Stuzzichino, in Carlton's normally busy Lygon Street, said after a quiet weekend there had only been a handful of customers during the morning.

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She said the usual tradies, doctors, lawyers and students were nowhere to be seen.

"If you listen to it, it feels like we're in a forest, not in the city, because there's just nobody around," she said.

""Without the office traffic, how can we survive?"

Fears lockdown will last longer

Ms Gibaldi said she worried the current "circuit-breaker" lockdown would last longer than five days.

"The worst part for us is we don't believe it's a five-day lockdown, no chance," she told ABC News Breakfast.

"This is just going to go on and on, and we can't afford this.

"We're just hanging on by a thread."

Ms Gibaldi said if the lockdown continued beyond Wednesday, she was unsure how she would pay her staff and her rent.

Salvatore Cultrera from Café Notturno estimated he had lost $50,000 to $60,000 in turnover and stock due to the snap lockdown.

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He has had to throw out fresh fish and diary supplies.

Ordinarily he would spend Monday placing food orders, but not today.

"We'll be assessing the damage and assessing what we lost," he said.

He also said he feared the lockdown would continue beyond five days.

"That's our big concern, five days is tough, loss of turnover, telling all our staff to stay home, but if it does go longer, as we know, five days can turn into weeks and months," he said.

Florists suffer Valentine's Day losses

Stephanie Rondos from the small, family-run In Full Bloom florist in South Melbourne said she would be lucky to be able to break even on what should have been one of the busiest days of the year.

"Everything changed so quickly, we didn't expect it, so we had ordered as we would have for a normal Valentine's Day," she said.

"Being a small family business, we have struggled throughout this pandemic, like so many other small businesses, so today would have been one of those days that would have brought us back on top, but it hasn't been the case.

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"We're just hoping everything is back to normal by Mother's Day."

Today Premier Daniel Andrews said it was too soon to say if Victoria would move out of stage 4 restrictions on Wednesday night, but he said the signs at this stage were that the state was "well placed" to do so.

However, he said: "I cannot definitively say where we're going to be at midnight Wednesday night."

Business uncertainty in 'vexatious pandemic'

Business leaders have complained that business is again having to foot the bill for failures in Victoria's hotel quarantine system.

Melbourne's Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the community needed to stay focused and unified and do everything possible to ensure the five-day lockdown didn't last beyond midnight on Wednesday.

She said the past weekend of lost trade had been described to her by members of Melbourne's small business community as "heartbreaking", "disappointing", "frustrating", "a disaster" and "a catastrophe".

"All of those emotions are driving people and their decision-making. It's underpinning people's well-being," Ms Capp said.

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She said as businesses headed towards the end of the quarter, when rents and other overheads became due, the business uncertainty during the "very vexatious pandemic" was difficult to manage.

"We're calling for all levels of government to outline a comprehensive support package that recognises the economic damage done from prioritising the health response," she said.

Mr Andrews said he had no announcements to make about support measures yet.

"Logic tells you that until you are clear how much support is needed, you can't make announcements about the details of that support package," he said.

But Rose Gibaldi said it was clear extra help for hospitality was needed, and called for international students to be able to return.

She said before this latest lockdown, traders had been getting back on their feet after Melbourne's devastating 111-day stage 4 lockdown last year.

However, she said in the immediate vicinity of her Lygon Street business, she had counted 45 shops for lease.

"Does that paint the picture for you? It doesn't get any clearer than that."

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