Hospitality businesses in regional New South Wales have switched to selling takeaway in a bid to salvage thousands of dollars in stock, after the entire state entered lockdown on Saturday afternoon.
Restaurant and cafe owners in the border town of Albury were only given a few hours of notice to prepare for the new restrictions, which came into effect in the middle of weekend trading at 5pm on Saturday.
Debbie Davis, owner of Level One Wine Bar in Albury, says her business was booked out on Saturday evening and Sunday for a special function.
“Obviously, we had ordered a lot of food for Sunday and not food that we normally have because it was a degustation,” Davis tells SmartCompany.
Davis, who co-owns the bar with her partner Mark Davis, says her chefs salvaged the stock by turning it into take home meals to sell from the business’ sister store, Level One Cellars, on Deans Street.
“There was so much food and we can’t freeze it because our motto is that we sell everything fresh,” she says.
Businesses in the border town have been significantly affected by changing coronavirus restrictions in New South Wales and Victoria over the past 18 months.
Davis says every time the border closes it affects her businesses because many of her customers live in Wodonga.
“Everyone in Albury and Wodonga considers it just one place so everyone is affected as soon as there’s a border closure,” she says.
Regional New South Wales had so far escaped the stay-at-home orders in force in Greater Sydney, which have now stretched into their eighth week.
These latest restrictions, introduced for all of regional New South Wales, will lift at 12:01am Sunday August 22 the earliest.
Under the restrictions, hospitality venues must be closed to the public except for takeaway and all non-essential retail premises are required to close.
Hanna Kadi, who co-owns the cafe As Thick As Thieves with her brother Ehabe Kadi, says she was “devastated” when she found out regional New South Wales would also enter lockdown.
“I was devastated. It was about 2:45pm, all our preparation was done for Sunday which is of course a really busy day,” Kadi tells SmartCompany.
Kadi will trade through the lockdown by selling the cafe’s dine-in menu as takeaway only and selling products to avoid wastage.
“We’ll try to sell our eggs and bread for the next few days from the cafe,” she says.
“We’re out of pocket, obviously. We’re losing a lot of stock and we have to pay our staff.”
On Monday, NSW Health recorded 478 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm the previous day.