Businesses on the brink

Pic of Hadi Chami from Notorious Espresso. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 206707_04

Esther Lauaki

The statewide lockdown is taking a massive toll on Wyndham businesses.

As businesses were forced to shut up shop last week as a result of strict government restrictions to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have expressed that they may not reopen.

Health department figures from last Friday reported 14 cases of Coronavirus in Wyndham as the nation went into level two of lockdown.

Point Cook’s Martial Fitness Australia is one of the thousands of businesses have closed down for good.

Owners Allan and Kelly Malachowski broke the news to their members last week.

“We must close our doors indefinitely to our wonderful members in the government’s latest attempts to crush the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Mr Malachowski said in a Facebook post.

“We knew that this day would eventually come, and we tried our very best to keep the doors open for as long as we could.

“This week the club has been a wonderful place of joy, support, optimism and of course sadness.

“We watched as our youngest members did their part in following guidelines and rules when they entered the club and immediately washed their hands with smiles as big as the moon.

“We also strongly believe that as a community we can get through this if we support one another.”

Numerous Wyndham cafes, food outlets and supermarkets are still open for takeaway orders only.

Owner of Notorious Espresso in Werribee, Hadi Chami, said the cafe will be offering free coffees for health service workers, such as doctors, nurses and paramedics, plus

employees from Woolworths, Coles and IGA stores.

“It’s important to support local businesses at this time,” Mr Chami said.

“It’s all about getting the community to stick together, rather than being every person for themselves.”

Andrew Vourvahakis, director of Laverton North small goods supplier Andew’s Choice, said he feared for the future of his business.

“We are totally devastated to watch the ramifications of the total shutdown of all pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and venues,” Mr Vourvahakis said.

“As much as we understand the need for this decision, it doesn’t make this process any easier. People are all talking about saving hospitality but what they haven’t realised is the ripple effect to the suppliers of these industries.

“Chances are most of us won’t even be paid the debts owed to us… What’s most heartbreaking, is to see so many people’s livelihood and years of hard work stripped away overnight.

“We are all fighting very hard to keep afloat.”

While business are feeling the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers are battling the illness on the front line with Werribee Mercy last week confirming four cases among its staff.

As reported first in Star Weekly a staff member at the hospital was diagnosed with the virus – one of the first cases of the illness in Wyndham.

It was confirmed that three other staff members from the hospital also tested positive for Coronavirus.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the hospital workers were all in a stable condition.

Mercy Health said they were all self-isolating and recovering at home.