20 July 2020

"We've got to be more vigilant": Eurobodalla businesses double down following local COVID-19 cases

| Elka Wood
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Bar staff holding drinks Moruya Waterfront Hotel Motel.

Staff at Moruya Waterfront Hotel Motel. Photo: Moruya Waterfront Hotel Motel.

Confirmed recent cases of COVID-19 in Batemans Bay have grown to eight following the past weekend, and anyone who dined at Batemans Bay Soldiers Club last week is being asked to be tested and self-isolate for 14 days, even if the test result is negative.

This new development is having ripple effects throughout Eurobodalla, with some people expressing concern that small businesses are not prepared to control the virus locally.

Moruya Business Chamber President Tim Dalrymple owns and manages Sportfirst in Moruya and understands how it is for small business owners trying to find time to implement COVID-19 safety measures such as ensuring every customer uses hand sanitiser, providing masks or installing perspex screens.

“We’ve been really busy during the holidays and I’ve said to my staff, ‘We’ve got to be more vigilant,'” he says.

Retail requires fewer precautions than hospitality but Tim says he has been researching what can be done to protect his staff and customers, concluding that installing screens wouldn’t help as staff are often on the shop floor helping customers try on shoes or clothing.

Having staff wear reusable face masks is something he will consider if COVID-19 continues to spread locally, but he acknowledges they are most effective when everyone wears one.

Tim is not the only small business manager who is under extra strain due to changing COVID-19 regulations.

“Put it this way, I’ve got three staff members away this week because of having to isolate after possibly coming into contact with COVID-19 and I’m a bit busy,” Steven Hamer, manager at Southlands Fruit and Vegetables in Moruya, says good-naturedly.

Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor Liz Innes has urged all businesses to complete the required COVID-19 Safety Plan and register as a COVID-Safe business.

Mayor Innes said everyone – businesses, residents and visitors – had a part to play.

“This has been a challenging time for us all, but it is so important we stay COVID-19-free so our businesses can stay open, our residents have freedoms and we can welcome visitors in a safe way,” she says.

“We need our community to play by the rules. We don’t want another lockdown – nobody does – so we all need to take responsibility to ensure Eurobodalla stays open for business.”

The Moruya Waterfront Hotel Motel announced its intention to adhere to changed NSW regulations in a statement.

“There have been some changes to NSW hotels as of today, Friday, 17 July, including that we are only allowed to seat 10 people at one time; checking the temperatures of all patrons; refusing entry to anyone with a Victorian ID; and employing a COVID-19 safety marshall on duty during peak meal times, who will be identified by a yellow vest.”

Council’s environment services divisional manager, Deb Lenson, encouraged all businesses to be aware of their responsibilities.

“Some businesses are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and we’ve been alarmed by the number of local
businesses who were not aware,” she said in a press release last week.

Ms Lenson says council is contacting restaurants and cafes to offer help with putting in place COVID-19 safeguards and business plans.

According to Tim, the Moruya Business Chamber has been doing its best to keep the local business community up-to-date with changing regulations and new developments.

He says he’d like to think COVID-19 won’t get out of hand locally.

“We’ve been sending lots of emails, but we can’t make anyone do anything – we’re not an authority,” he says of the chamber.

“We’re just hoping beyond hope the virus doesn’t get a foothold in either Batemans Bay or Moruya because, let’s face it, the hospitals won’t cope.”

Eurobodalla Shire Council encourages anyone to report breaches of COVID-19 regulations to Crime Stoppers.

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