Coronavirus restrictions: Crookwell's hospitality faces job losses

A customer walks into Zestt Cafe in Crookwell to order takeaway as the government restricts cafes and restaurants to takeaway only during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Hannah Sparks
A customer walks into Zestt Cafe in Crookwell to order takeaway as the government restricts cafes and restaurants to takeaway only during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Crookwell's hospitality has been shaken by the federal government's crackdown on Monday.

Crookwell Services Club was forced to stand down the majority of its staff while The Criterion Hotel let go of bar staff. Cafe Zestt is seeing out the restrictions for seven days before weighing up its costs.

"We're looking down the barrel at six months without work so there is a lot of stress and emotions flying around, but we have prioritised supporting those staff who have been stood down," Crookwell Services Club general manager April Gay said.

"We are also aware that we're not the only ones in this situation and are hopeful all Crookwell venues will get through this unprecedented time."

Police are present on the main street of Crookwell advising people of the government's restrictions. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Police are present on the main street of Crookwell advising people of the government's restrictions. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Cafe Zestt owner Catherine Duff said police had been monitoring if the business was following restrictions this week.

Police were making themselves present on the main street to advise people of the government's restrictions, acting Inspector and officer in charge at Yass and Crookwell Police Stations David Cowell said.

"We're here to support our community and advise them where we can and help businesses if they have any problems with customers," acting Inspector Cowell said.

"Now is a time where we need to work together and it's really important that people respect and acknowledge the restrictions the government imposes."

The impact can be felt across the Upper Lachlan Shire in the wake of the government's closure of licenced venues (excluding attached bottle shops and accommodation) while restaurants and cafes are restricted to takeaway and home delivery only.

These latest measures aim to slow the spread of coronavirus. There were three confirmed cases in Goulburn on Thursday but none in the Upper Lachlan.

Crookwell Services Club

Ms Gay said the little information they had was constantly changing and sometimes conflicting.

Crookwell Services Club and Everley's Bistro and Cafe has closed. Everley's Bistro was providing takeaways on Monday and Tuesday but decided on Tuesday night that it was best to close for the business and family, without going into too much detail.

Ms Gay said they would review the situation at the end of the week.

"We're all just trying to do the best we can with the limited information we've been given," she said.

A sign on the door at The Criterion Hotel letting customers know the bar is closed due to coronavirus. Photo: Hannah Sparks

A sign on the door at The Criterion Hotel letting customers know the bar is closed due to coronavirus. Photo: Hannah Sparks

The Criterion Hotel

The Criterion's manager Amber George said they were quiet after having to close the bar.

"It's pretty disheartening. We had a lot of staff who just worked in the bar and are now out of work. Depending on how busy the bistro gets we would like to try to fit them in here to give them something," she said.

Judy Stephenson buys a takeaway coffee from Keke Coffee owner Kizziah Plumb inside The Criterion Hotel during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Judy Stephenson buys a takeaway coffee from Keke Coffee owner Kizziah Plumb inside The Criterion Hotel during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Hannah Sparks

The Criterion is serving takeaway meals and providing home delivery from the bistro during lunch and dinner. People can phone to place orders.

The hotel's accommodation is also still open, helping to keep cleaners employed, Ms George said.

Keke Coffee inside the hotel will stay open as per its usual hours, serving takeaways for the next week.

Owner Kizziah Plumb said many of her usual morning customers, especially tradies, had still be into purchase takeaways and that she felt lucky to be a part of the pub.

"We're working together to keep each other going. It's the unknown that's worrying," she said.

Cafe Zestt

Owner Ms Duff said she couldn't understand why cafes and restaurants were restricted while retailers weren't.

"There appears to be no consistency with the decision-makers. You can still go to Westfield in Sydney and you can't tell me they're running around with sanitiser doing every single rail and door handle," she said.

A customer waits for her takeaway order inside Cafe Zestt. Photo: Hannah Sparks

A customer waits for her takeaway order inside Cafe Zestt. Photo: Hannah Sparks

She said they would trade until next Tuesday to see how takeaway sales went before making a decision about keeping the business open.

The cafe is open from 8am-2pm for people to order anything from the menu to take away.

Religious gatherings restricted

The government also banned religious gatherings, places of worship and funerals on Monday.

A sign on the door at Crookwell Uniting Church letting members know its worship services are cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Hannah Sparks

A sign on the door at Crookwell Uniting Church letting members know its worship services are cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Crookwell Uniting Church had already suspended all worship services and public gatherings including weddings, funerals, bible study and Sunday lunches on Friday in light of the pandemic.

Pastor Daniel Mossfield said the church couldn't take the risk of causing harm to any of its elderly or vulnerable members.

He will live-stream worship on the church's website from 9am on Sundays from March 29 and provide resources for those without internet via the church's monthly newsletter.

Crookwell Uniting Church. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Crookwell Uniting Church. Photo: Hannah Sparks

The church's pastoral partners will also keep in regular contact with members by the phone and the church has asked volunteers to help one another with groceries.

The church has also asked members to support the small businesses in Crookwell.

Small businesses supporting each other

Upper Lachlan Small Business Association chair and small business owner Susan Reynolds has advised members to speak to their landlords and banks as soon as possible to ask for a reduction to rent and rates.

She has also suggested small businesses make their products available online and use the quieter trading period to get involved with training.

"There is a lot of training available and training that will be useful when we get on the other side. We are all in the same boat and we all have to bunker down for a while," she said.

However, Mrs Reynolds said there was no doubt the coronavirus pandemic would have a devastating impact on the Upper Lachlan's businesses.

"Because they don't have the capacity of larger businesses to lose income for a long time and they are already anxious because numbers have been dwindling."

Mrs Reynolds encouraged everyone to buy from their backyard.

"The association now has 100 members. It's surprising how many businesses there are locally. If we as a community pull together we will scrape through," she said.

Financial assistance for staff and employers

The federal government has temporarily expanded the eligibility for income support payments and established a new, time-limited coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight.

That money will be paid to existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit in addition for the next six months.

Social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders will also receive an additional $750 automatically from July 13. That's on top of the first payment of $750 that was announced on March 12 to be paid automatically from March 31.

The government is also providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people with a minimum payment of $20,000. Those payments will help businesses and not-for-profits with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.

The government will also allow individuals in financial stress as a result of the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

All of this information and more is available from Services Australia: www.servicesaustralia.gov.au or 132 468.

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