Restrictions ease for Canberra’s retail stores today following 80 per cent COVID-19 vaccination milestone

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

If you’ve been hanging out to scratch that retail therapy itch, the time has come.

Canberra’s retail stores will reopen to the public today, after the government eased restrictions in the wake of the ACT reaching the critical 80 per cent double dose vaccination milestone.

Since lockdown lifted last week, non-essential retail outlets have been able to cater to two people at a time, by booked appointment.

But from today, they can open their doors even wider and welcome people in … with a few caveats, like capacity limits, attached.

It has been a challenging time for business owners, with the Canberra economy hit hard after nearly 18 months of uncertainty and restrictions since the pandemic began.

So have the changes come soon enough?

Reopening welcome, but some still struggling

For Clare Lovell, who owns The Stitching Room in Phillip, the last few months have been “horrendous”.

“Will we survive? I don’t know,” she said.

Since opening three years ago, the store has endured the impact of bushfires, smoke and lockdowns.

“We’re down probably 90 per cent on our income, and 60 per cent of that is [from cancelling] classes,” Ms Lovell said.

She received good news yesterday, learning the business been approved for financial support from the government, and is now waiting for that funding to come in so that she can re-order supplies.

“Our stocks are very low,” she said.

“I don’t have any staples left, but I can’t order because you need to pay up-front.”

The required space restrictions that come with reopening mean there is still some income uncertainty.

“I can have only 12 people in the shop — normally I’d have 12 people in a class, but I can only have probably six or seven,” Ms Lovell said.

“[But] it’s just so wonderful to see people back in the shop, and see it being used the way it was designed to be.”

Upon entry, conditions apply

Just as when restrictions eased after the lockdown of 2020, capacity limits apply to in-store shopping from today.

Each shop is permitted to have one person per four square metres within all areas that are accessible to the public — children of all ages are counted in the occupancy limits.

But staff don’t count in that number, and there are no restrictions on the number of staff allowed in the business at one time.

Patrons are still expected to check in using the Check In CBR app wherever they go, and all staff and customers over the age of 12 must wear a face mask.

A distance of 1.5 metres between each person should be maintained.

And for those businesses that have chosen not to reopen just yet, click-and-collect and delivery are still permitted.

Like Ms Lovell, Rodney Toll, who owns Rodney’s Plants Plus in Pialligo, is acutely aware of the capacity limits.

“We’re over 3,000 square metres of area at the garden centre, so there’s plenty of room for people,” he said.

“The only thing we will control, obviously, is at the checkouts where people do need to try and follow the social distancing and be a little bit patient when they’re coming back to the checkouts.”

Lockdown has posed financial challenges for the business, and Mr Toll said they were “very excited” to get back to trading in person.

“It’s certainly time for us to get back to some sort of normality,” he said.

“People have been very patient and very good through this period, and we’re very much appreciative of what they’ve done for our business.”

‘I think most people are understanding and know what to expect’

Nana Tzanetos from Manuka store Wolfie, has also taken steps to ensure COVID-safe practices are maintained from today.

“We’ll have two [staff] on, starting from [today], so we’ll have someone standing at the door making sure people abide by those rules,” Ms Tzanetos said.

“But I think most people are understanding and know what to expect.”

The 11 weeks since lockdown began have been a struggle for Ms Tzaneto’s business, which trades in children’s clothes and toys.

She only managed to establish a website two weeks into the lockdown, and struggled with sales during that time.

But she said the store had been booked out since two-person bookings became an option, indicating ACT residents were keen to start shopping in person again.

“We’re just hoping that this year people shop small [and] support their local community,” she said.

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(Original ABC Article)