Roundup: Australia's Sydney retailers happily reopen from lockdown

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 12, 2021
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SYDNEY, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Restaurants, cafes, pubs, gyms and a myriad of other businesses that have been shut for months in Australia's Sydney are ecstatic to finally reopen as the state of New South Wales (NSW) takes the first step of "Roadmap to Freedom".

The NSW government has launched the first phase of its long-awaited "Roadmap to Freedom" with a partial lift of restrictions only available to those who have had their two doses of vaccines.

Under the first phase of the scheme, which began on Monday, there is a series of conditions placed on retail and hospitality venues in Greater Sydney.

Cafes and restaurants, for instance, must ensure customers are fully vaccinated and have their "vaccine passports". There must be no more than one customer per 4 square meters indoors or one person per 2 square meters outdoors. Customers must be seated while drinking alcohol, and staff must continue to wear masks.

Such rules and regulations, however, are not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of one waitress who spoke to Xinhua.

"I'm so excited for it," said Maite, who works at Delicado Food and Wine situated near Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge. "Our store opens every Tuesday, so for us, everything will go back to normal from today. I'm not sure about how many people will come, but I'm just going to roll with no pressure."

The owner of Bill's Café, in fashionable inner-city Sydney, was equally keen to get back to business after about four months in lockdown. He has been putting that time to good use by creating a new menu, redecorating his café and hiring new staff.

"All of our staff were vaccinated, and we have to follow the rules to check people's vaccination passports," he told Xinhua.

"Another difference is that we used to be full all the time, with almost 100 people inside, but now we can only have roughly 40."

Some businesses, seriously hit by the lockdown, are encouraging customers to spend again by offering promotions.

Airline Virgin Australia, for example, released 50,000 seats for 49 Australian dollars (about 36 U.S. dollars) for two regional routes to mark the "Freedom Day", with the company's spokesperson expecting the fares to "sell out quickly".

The discounted airfares will be available for travel between Nov. 1 and June 23 of the next year, when regional travel is expected to be allowed again state-wide.

Retail liquor store chain BWS is giving away 20,000 six-packs of beers to celebrate the "Roadmap to Freedom" to encourage Aussies to share a drink with their mates. Customers aged over 18 can redeem the free brew when they create an account on the company's website.

Amid all the retail good cheer, however, there remains a few concerns. Bill's Café owner is worried that customers may still "not come because of the fear of the virus, and we need to turn away some unvaccinated people otherwise we will be fined."

The vaccine requirements to enter premises have already become controversial with several store owners saying they would keep their doors shut until everyone was granted access.

Owners of the Hardcore Gym in southern Sydney said on their website that the vaccination passports went against the company's values, not only as a business but "as humans that are part of a free society."

"We are anticipating a new beginning as soon as the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet permits both vaccinated and unvaccinated members and guests to enter gyms," owner Hicham Hammoud told local reporters.

Egg of the Universe's wholefood cafés in Sydney will also stay shut as they need to work out how to manage health orders while respecting customers, according to a statement.

"We want to reopen safely, but we need to carefully consider what operation in a COVID-normal world looks like for us and all businesses," it said. Enditem

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