Heart and Soul Wholefood Cafe co-owners Rachael Koning and Shelley Kirke.
Heart and Soul Wholefood Cafe co-owners Rachael Koning and Shelley Kirke.

How Clarence businesses are handling coronavirus crisis

CLOSING down, sanitising and going cashless are some of the measures Clarence businesses are taking in the race to prevent further spread of COVID-19 but the looming impact of the pandemic has already hit the streets and is taking a toll on many.

After being open for just six-weeks Marijke Van der Vlist's store the Clarence Kitchen Collective shut its doors on Wednesday, something she said, "needed to be done".

"I listened to the advice of medical professionals in Australia, and that advice is very clear," Ms Van der Vlist said.

"Social isolation is going to be one of the things that is going to help it. As a cafe we took all the precautions that we could but even that only goes so far."

Marijke Van der Vlist has closed The Clarence Kitchen Collective temporarily due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Marijke Van der Vlist has closed The Clarence Kitchen Collective temporarily due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

 

The South Grafton store is one of the few Clarence businesses to take this measure so far, with most cafes, clubs and restaurants ramping up their hygiene measures in a bid to remain open as long as possible.

Heart and Soul Wholefood cafe co-owner Rachael Koning said the business hadn't experienced a decline in customers, but the situation was changing daily.

 

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The cafe is among many who are no longer accepting reusable coffee cups, have removed tables to allow for the 1.5m required space between people and are recommending card payments only.

"We've also removed salt, pepper and sugar off tables and are continually sanitising everything to protect our staff and customers," she said.

"There's definitely a change coming but at this stage we're going OK."

Ms Koning said they would close the doors or alter opening hours if told to and was concerned for the uncertainty that lay ahead.

"Any business is, and would be, it's our livelihood. It's what we do, it's what our staff do."

On Wednesday, Pets Domain Grafton announced it would no longer be accepting cash payments, however for one business without EFPTOS facilities, sanitising cash has become the norm.

Sevtap Yuce of Yamba's Beachwood cafe had begun disinfecting incoming money among a series of cleaning measures.

 

Sevtap Yuce of Beachwood Cafe
Sevtap Yuce of Beachwood Cafe

"This week so far it's been pretty sad, not only the drop in business, suppliers are becoming scarce and even the wholesalers they are running out of food," she said.

For a town known as a tourist hotspot, the decline in customers has already hit some businesses hard. Bean Scene cafe owner Michael McGarvie said the drop had already forced him to cut back staff hours and would soon mean a condensed menu to ensure food wouldn't be wasted.

"Normally I'll go through three to 400 eggs a week, now it's more like 180 in three to four weeks," he said.

"I've got to juggle staff and try to give them all a little bit.

"You haven't got the takings coming in you can't keep paying out big wages. I've got to try to give all the staff a little bit and they're all getting that little bit less."

The changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has meant some businesses are thinking outside the box. Ms Koning said Heart and Soul Wholefood cafe would soon be offering gift vouchers to be purchased online.

The Clarence Kitchen Collective also has plans to move online with bulk good delivery to be set up soon.

Several yoga, meditation and journaling classes previously run from above the cafe have also moved online.



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