Traders across Victoria continue adjusting after Sunday’s announcement that stage four restrictions would be extended.
Increased health and safety measures have impacted business and customers alike.
The 5km radius rule has meant many people, especially elders have not been able to go to their familiar markets and stores to buy their specialty products.
Debbie Papadimitriou who runs Olympic Specialty Products in Thomastown says many of her customers lie outside of the permitted radius.
“I’ve got one old customer who goes from Doncaster to Preston Market for the last 25 to 30 years and hasn’t ever shopped anywhere else. His routine every Saturday was to drive from Doncaster to Preston Market to do his shopping and now that’s been taken away from him and he was lost and he didn’t know where to go, because he’s never shopped locally,” she said.
Although business has slowed down, Ms Papadimitriou has still been able to get by.
“At the end of the day we’re lucky we’re able to come to work. I’ve been been able to keep all my employees employed and they’ve been able to come into work every day, financially my staff have been very grateful. Hopefully as time goes on we can get a little busier,” Ms Papadimitriou said.
On the other side of town, the head of Oakleigh’s business body is calling on the state government to reverse its lockdown restrictions in order to help the suburb’s struggling hospitality sector, including the area’s famous Eaton Mall Hellenic precinct.
Oakleigh Village Traders Association President Anna Sfrantzis slammed the social media posts of a busy Eaton Mall, on Saturday 15 August, as misleading and said they had led to too many police patrols of the shopping centre and mall.
“We have been told off left, right and centre here by the police,” she said.
Ms Sfrantzis said police approached her shop on Sunday 6 September.
“They looked at the cakes and said ‘What time do you close?’,” she said.
Ms Sfrantzis said a staff member replied that the shop closed at 7:30 pm and the officers then left.
Victoria Police has defended its actions saying the patrols have been necessary.
In a written response, Victoria Police spokesman Senior Constable Alistair Parsons, said the patrols were part of the force’s strategy to keep Victorians safe.
“As part of Victoria Police’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, police units have been undertaking increased foot patrols, which have focused on stopping and talking to people on the street and conducting vehicle checks,” Sen- Constable Parsons said.
“We know the majority of people in our community have been doing the right thing and we ask that everyone continues to abide by the Chief Health Officer’s restrictions. However, if you choose to blatantly and deliberately breach the directions of the Chief Health Officer, you will receive an infringement notice. It is crucial we all abide by these measures for the health of every Victorian.”
Ms Papadimitriou says police presence around her area of business has not increased.
“A lot of our factories are shut down, so there’s not a lot of police in the area…A couple of my staff have been pulled over coming into work and gotten checked, but they understand that they’re [police] are doing their job too,” she said.
Metropolitan Melbourne’s stage four restrictions are considered among the strictest in the world and are hitting businesses hard all around the city.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said these measures are necessary to ensure the state does not regress back into high case numbers.
“If we open up too fast, then we have a very high likelihood, a very high likelihood, that we are not really opening up at all,” Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
“We are just beginning a third wave and we will be back in and out of restrictions, in and out of lockdown, before the end of the year.”
Ms Sfrantzis, whose association represents 360 Oakleigh businesses including 50 Greek traders, said she hoped all the local businesses, including retail, travel, beauty and the professional offices, would survive.
She said she had not heard of any business closing down, and added that those that sold food were managing better than the others because they provided essential goods, could deliver and innovate.
Modelling by the Institute of Public Affairs, based on jobs and wages data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the extended lockdown could cost the state another 260,000 jobs.