A masked shopper in Bourbong Street on Monday morning.
A masked shopper in Bourbong Street on Monday morning.

COVID-19: How local businesses are adapting to survive

THE normality of everyday life is changing daily with many businesses having to modify their practices to continue trading throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the latest social gathering restrictions, Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce president Tim Sayre said the mood in the business community was one of nervousness and trepidation for what the future holds.

As of midday yesterday licenced venues such as cinemas, gyms, pubs, clubs, places of worship and casinos are closed, with restaurants and cafes reduced to takeaway options only.

Mr Sayre said the restrictions were going to have a "significant impact" on some local businesses and they were concerned about locals' mental wellbeing.

"We're looking at ways that we can support the businesses, the owners, the employees and so forth as much as we possibly can by working with all levels of government through our partner organisations so that we can make sure that we have a stimulus package that allows these businesses to still be here when this crisis is over," he said.

Mr Sayre said businesses were taking steps to "convert" to practices aligning with the new bans.

"We've seen cafes that aren't putting out chairs and tables, they are moving to a more online or phone-based ordering system so that people can ring up and order and either pick up or have them delivered," he said.

"And that's great to see that those businesses that can innovate and adapt; it shows that we have some real resilience in some of our great businesses that we have in the region.

"Unfortunately for some others, there is not much they can do."

Mr Sayre said these changes would be felt across the region and country through no fault of business owners and staff; thus patience and understanding needed to be at the forefront moving forward.

Throughout these unprecedented times, the message is simple - where possible buy local.

"We don't want to see people suddenly thinking that eBay and Amazon are the way to go," he said.

"We want people to support our locals here, whether that's the butcher, the hairdresser, the newsagent, anybody in local business, we are asking people to support them as much as possible.

"We want our cafes to still be here when we come out the other side of this. We want our pubs and clubs to be ready to go as soon as this ban is lifted."

Mr Sayre said it was the local small businesses that supported the local footy teams and often gave kids their first afterschool and weekend jobs.

He said the chamber endeavoured to get information out to members as quickly as possible, along with the prospects of webinars to support local businesses.