There is a feeling of inevitability running through the Orange region in New South Wales as it adjusts to the snap seven-day lockdown announced just hours before it was enforced from midnight on Tuesday, July 21.
Regional tourism businesses in NSW are the forgotten victims of the Sydney lockdowns.
Like many businesses in the Orange region, our winery Printhie Wines relies on the tourism dollar, especially our cellar door trade. And so the Sydney lockdown hasn’t just affected greater Sydney, it has had a major impact on regional tourism business.
We’ve reduced cellar door trading hours and working with minimal staff to cater for the few remaining visitors from regional NSW and Canberra. And while we knew it was only a matter of time, it still came as a shock that a shutdown was being enforced for the Orange, Blayney and Cabonne local government areas.
Even though these shutdowns have a massive cost to our business, we see it as a positive that the decision was made quickly.
However, the financial and mental impacts can’t be denied; we’ve lost our restaurant trade in Sydney and now our cellar door trade, resulting in a 70% loss to our business overnight.
We learnt a lot from previous lockdowns in 2020 and made significant changes to the business structure so we’re able to adapt much faster with a focus on increasing marketing activities locally and across NSW. Because of this, we know we can survive this next round of lockdowns, but the continual financial impacts are taking their toll.
Under the current government COVID-19 support packages, businesses have to demonstrate a loss compared to June 2019. But this doesn’t assist new business or businesses like us that opened new cellar doors after that date.
While short term support will be become available if the Orange region lockdown is extended beyond seven days, an extension of the Greater Sydney lockdowns will mean that many regional businesses like ours will continue to struggle.
We are due to open a new cellar door and restaurant at the end of this year, which is a considerable investment for our family business. The biggest risk to its success will be further lockdowns that cripple regional tourism.
The future and survival of many regional businesses now relies on the timely rollout of the vaccination program.