Port Macquarie-Hastings cafes and restaurants are rushing to develop new business models as they are forced to cease face-to-face trade amid tougher restrictions to keep coronavirus at bay.
A ban was placed on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people on March 19. Social-distancing restrictions were further tightened a day later to only allow one person per four square metres at all non-essential indoor gatherings of all sizes.
Cafes and restaurants have since been advised to only offer takeaway and delivery services. Essential businesses such as supermarkets, banks, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics, food delivery and bottle shops will remain open.
Reyhana Turkish Restaurant manager and owner Yesha Avsar said they have gone from over 100 customers a day to around 30.
"Takeaway we were doing before but deliveries we have recently implemented when it was going really badly," Miss Avsar said.
In a weird way Port Macquarie businesses starting to develop home delivery services could be a positive range of choices for the community from this whole thing.Yesha Avsar
"We just stopped getting traffic through the door when all the news about coronavirus erupted. We thought that people are scared to come out so we will instead go to them.
"We need to pay bills, wages for 11 staff members and we need to keep going. So we gave it a shot.
"If online delivery works for one business maybe it can work for us too. It's a chain reaction because no one wants to miss out on that extra business.
Swirl Port Macquarie owner Sharin Holland said her CBD business has started deliveries due to limited walk in customers.
"We are doing deliveries now to diversify the business and keep money coming in wherever you can," Mrs Holland said.
"We do drop offs by taking payment over the phone and just dropping it off.
We will survive but a lot of other people won't and I think that will be really sad for the town.Sharin Holland
"Deliveries probably aren't sustainable on their own but you can tell how quiet it is at the moment. There's parking available in the CBD which shows how quiet business is.
"We have had some help with merchant fees waived for three months which is good but it's going to be a hard winter with this virus.
"We will survive but a lot of other people won't and I think that will be really sad for the town."
Ken Little, from Ken Little's Fruit and Veg, Port Macquarie said he has offered home deliveries for 35 years and never seen them so popular.
"Usually on a Friday we would do 15 to 20 deliveries, last Friday we did 65," he said.
"There's a lot of people who don't want to come out and many in isolation.
"Because of the restrictions we have five people in the shop working and we can only have eight or nine people in the shop. We haven't got a big area so we have someone out front directing traffic.
"In case we don't have a shop front soon we are working on an online services as well."
Seasalt Cafe & Restaurant operator Cassie Clark said the cafe has transformed into a home delivery, takeaway and kerb-side operation.
"We've built up this business for five years and I cannot close. My heart won't let me," she said.
"I've got a community base who has supported me, I've got 19 staff here and they're all family.
"Even though we've moved all our tables and chairs away we're going to do our very best to stay open and recreate what we do at Seasalt.
It's emotional and it's shocking but if our doors do close the community will know it's because we have given it every shot.Cassie Clark
"We are looking at frozen meals, soups and basic things such as milk and eggs that people can come and get. We are just trying to keep the passion alive.
"While the government is allowing us to service our customers we will. A few days ago we thought that home delivery would work but we haven't had a chance to sit down and work out what our future is.
"It's emotional and it's shocking but if our doors do close the community will know it's because we have given it every shot."
A social media group called Port Macquarie EaTs, has been created for local food eateries to advertise their business. It has 4000 members so far.
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