Relief for Brisbane cafe owners as three-day lockdown comes to an end

Brisbane lockdown ends

Joedy's Cafe in New Port, Brisbane. Source: supplied.

Brisbane cafes are relieved restrictions will ease tonight, after the three-day lockdown across Greater Brisbane forced them to extend holidays and limit trading.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced this morning that Greater Brisbane’s lockdown will end at 6pm Monday, and will be replaced with stage one restrictions, including mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing rules for the next 10 days.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Joedy Kyle, the owner of New Farm’s Joedy’s Cafe, welcomes the end of the lockdown, which forced him to pause indoor dining and only sell takeaway food and drinks.

“Trade was down due to people heeding the advice and staying at home, we were a lot quieter than normal,” Kyle says.

Kyle opened his cafe five days before the national shutdown last year and says this meant he was well equipped to adjust to the recent lockdown that began on Saturday, January 9, after a hotel worker tested positive to the highly infectious UK variant of COVID-19.

“To us, as a business, we are quite experienced dealing with lockdowns and restrictions. We obviously reduced our staffing to a more appropriate level, so it’s been OK,” Kyle explains.

Kyle says the menu that he designed last March works well for both in-store dining and takeaway, so when restrictions kicked in on Tuesday, he was ready.

“We were about 90% prepared,” he says.

One of the toughest parts of adapting to snap restrictions is having to reduce the hours of his employees, Kyle says.

“It’s never easy to take away someone’s livelihood, but on the other hand, I need to protect my business and what we’re building,” he says.

Kyle thinks these sorts of snap lockdowns could absolutely happen again in Queensland and across Australia over the next year-and-a-half to two years.

However, Kyle says businesses must be prepared for abrupt changes in the future.

“It’s not necessarily a great position for businesses or individuals, but at the end of the day it’s a highly transmissible virus and we need to do the best we can,” he explains.

Announcing the easing of restrictions at a press conference today, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was good news that zero new cases of community transmission were reported overnight.

“We are able to end our lockdown after three days … from 6pm tonight that lockdown will end, however, we will need to continue some restrictions,” she said.

West End Coffee House owner Em Clare says she was on holidays when the lockdown was announced, so she extended her time off by one day.

Clare says she will re-open her cafe on Tuesday instead of Monday, giving her time to hear today’s announcement.

“We’ve just been waiting, there wasn’t anything else we could do,” she says.

“But my chef is in the kitchen right now making simple takeaway things in case the lockdown was extended.”

The owner of the Australian-Thai fusion cafe says she supports how the Queensland government has been managing the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think our government tries its best, and our state has been much safer than other places,” she says.

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