Back our local businesses

By Robert Muir

The Corowa Business Chamber is appealing to the Corowa community to support local businesses as they face huge challenges due to threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“With new rules, regulations and updates coming out daily, it is a challenging time for all of us and especially small business,” Paul Schnelle, spokesperson for the Corowa Business Chamber, told The Frees Press.

“Collectively, we are major employers in the area and our ongoing success is crucial to the long-term future of this community and the quality of life that we all enjoy.”

Mr Schnelle said it is fortunate that, living in a small country town and with potential self-isolation on the horizon, locals can still source most of the goods and services required to get by, locally.

“Business as we know it will need to change,” he said.  

“Working from home needs to be embraced, along with the challenge of keeping up productivity while at home. 

“Face to face services will need to adapt to embrace the new norm. Internet shopping will be forced upon us and retailers will need to embrace it if they haven’t already.”

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a mixed bag for local businesses over the past few weeks, with some being run off their feet trying to keep up demand as customers stock up and others running sales, trying to sell stock to cash up if they are forced to shut temporarily.

“As we continue into the unknown with some feelings of confusion, it is important to remember that we are still in control of our own decisions,” Mr Schnelle said.

“So, order your local take away coffee and meal, call up your local retailer and see if they can deliver, get your advice from your local solicitor or accountant  over the phone or skype, rather than face to face, and get quotes from your local tradies who will always be there when needed, especially in difficult times.

“Let’s ensure that when the pandemic eventually moves on that we have an even stronger local community to support our fantastic country lifestyle.”

Our two large licensed clubs – Corowa RSL Club and Corowa Golf Club - are closed and with it many people are without work as a result of the Federal Government’s direction on Sunday.

That list of restrictions by the government limits cafes, restaurants, clubs and hotels to only serve takeaway and not seat customers. Cinemas, gyms, churches and other places of worship were also ordered to close in order to stop the world-wide 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.

Corowa RSL Club closed its doors at 12 noon on Monday. “We were mandated to close at 12 yesterday,” club CEO Peter Merritt told The Free Press. And we have just 10 people, mainly maintenance, out of our workforce of 80 at the club at this point in time.

“We are considering what we can do, to make plans to get through this, to get to the other side.” 

Golf is still being played at the very impressive Corowa Golf Club course. “Golf is still operational at this stage,” club CEO Daniel Peacock said.

“We are following any advice and opting on the side of caution. The club is in shutdown mode.” 

Mr Peacock was full of praise for his 42 employees. “Our fantastic and loyal staff have put their hands up to assist in any way they can, with offers of volunteering,” he said.

“We are working on everything to catch up with our stakeholders and creditors and working through any issues that arise.

“The board is working tirelessly to ensure we will continue as a club.” 

With the serious nature of coronavirus and governments advocating no travel unless essential, accommodation outlets have experienced significant downturns in numbers of tourists and holidaymakers.

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.