Kirstin Nicholson, The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper
Hopes of a short five-day lockdown were dashed on Tuesday when the Victorian Government extended the lockdown for a further seven days. At the earliest, lockdown will end next Tuesday, July 27 at 11.59pm.
The negative effects of lockdown are widespread with people and organisations having to cancel events, celebrations, travel and appointments.
Schools were thrown into disarray. Given that students had already gone home for the day when the lockdown was announced, staff worked overtime to provide students with the resources they needed for remote learning.
Some businesses have continued with no or minimal disruption. Others have offered alternative arrangements like offering ‘call and collect’ shopping or takeaway meals only. Others have had to cease trading altogether until the lockdown is over and will only reopen if they meet the government guidelines at the time.
The Bower Tavern’s Jamie and Vicki Williams switched from offering meals seven days a week to offering takeaway meals on three nights. Jamie says they are doing their best to keep the six fulltime staff working but there is not enough work to keep the casual staff going.
“As disappointing as it is to say, we’re old hats at lockdowns now. Those nights we open for takeaway meals, they’re not filling the bank up. They’re just there to keep people employed and engaged. I guess you do that for the community as well, you’re certainly not doing it to line your own pockets.”
While not surprised, Jamie is disappointed to have gone into lockdown again, and to have had the lockdown extended.
“My biggest concern is how long do we keep doing this for? In six weeks’ time we get the numbers back and we’re all ticking along alright and there’s another little outbreak, so they shut you down again… and again. They haven’t even got to a point where they’ve allowed international travellers in. What’s going to happen then?
“It is a concern both financially and mentally. This is what happens, it’s not just the financial side of things, it’s the mental strain on our staff and on ourselves. Every time you stop, you lose your momentum; you lose your drive.
“Everyone in business has plans of how they want to make the business better or expand, but when there’s no surety in the future, do you put them on hold, or do you just go ahead and do it? But you can’t really do that because you’ve got to worry about the finances. Those sorts of things weigh pretty heavily on your decision making.
“Everyone else is doing the same thing. There are a lot of people out there who are fed up. We’ll have to just roll with it, like everybody else.”
Kylie Kervin owns Kookaburra Massage, and she was not aware of the impending 5-day lockdown until after her last client on Thursday, July 15. She packed up the room that she rents at CohunaCo and messaged upcoming clients to cancel appointments.
“I was disappointed. Having to message everybody and cancel appointments was inconvenient. I feel for the clients who call looking for appointments and I have to decline their request. Some of these people really need help and I am unable to help them.
“Lockdown is what you have to do, you have to go with it. There’s nothing you can do about it, other than stay home. Hopefully, we can overcome COVID-19 sooner rather than later and then we are able to go about our normal lives.
“I’m making a loss in income but I’m one of the lucky ones. My husband has a dairy farm, and we have that support as well. It hasn’t affected me as it has with other people and families who do rely on their business for their sole income.”
Kylie has utilised her time in lockdown to work on her business behind the scenes and doing jobs around home that have been put on the backburner.
Sporting clubs across the district have paused play. It means further disruption to sporting rounds and social events and planning for end of year concerts and finals.
Gary Kervin, president of the Leitchville Gunbower Football Netball Club said, “It is not just a game of football and netball that has been lost, we have social functions that need to be rescheduled. This week would have been a player driven event which is always a bonus.
“It’s a chance for the local farmers to gather around the fires at Gunbower and regale each other with how deep the mud is on their farm, most importantly getting them off the farm. It is another day of the people in our community swapping social interaction for the solitude of home.
“The physical exertion of team sport is replaced with the thumb movements driving a screen which only they can see. The most important thing about community, sport is not the sport, it is the community and that is what lockdown has taken away. Again.”
Now, more than ever, we need to support each other. Support your family, support your neighbours and friends, and support your local businesses.
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 22 July 2021.