At a time when the general population is in a panic over the threat of COVID-19, small businesses are feeling the pressure more than ever. The situation is evolving every day as the number of confirmed cases grows and medical and government advice changes, but some bakeries are seeing a silver lining through the panic with increased sales of bread products as a result of the public’s fear of supermarket crowds and low stock.
The Prime Minister confirmed in a press conference there would be no two-week shutdown despite calls from the public, and said the government is focused on keeping Australians in jobs.
“Wherever possible, we need to keep Australians working,” said Mr Morrison. “This is a critical issue in ensuring Australia can keep functioning and keep delivering the important services necessary.”
There is no doubt that today’s announcement that non-essential indoor gatherings are limited to 100 people indoors will have an effect on how many hospitality businesses are run, but what can individual bakeries, patisseries and chocolatiers do to reduce the risk and stop the spread?
Popular Melbourne cake store, Beatrix, is asking customers to take practical steps to maintain social distance, placing signs at the door asking customers to wait outside if there are more than six guests already inside.
Many bakeries are asking customers to pay via card where possible to reduce the need for handling cash, and providing hand sanitiser for customer use. Flour and Chocolate at Northgate, Brisbane are also encouraging customers to call ahead and order to minimise time in store, and like many other bakeries and cafes will be serving coffee in takeaway cups only – no keep cups.
Baking Association of Australia Executive Officer Tony Smith said that staying calm is pivotal for business owners at this time.
“Stay calm and stay positive,” Mr Smith said.
“They need to speak to either their accountants or check with the incentives the government are offering, first of all, and they need to check the members’ portal if they’re members of the Association, because everyone is in different boats – they’re either in shopping centres, or they’re on strip shops – all different scenarios.
“So the advice is to stay calm. The board have brought some extra staff in to be open 24/7 to answer any calls.”
Mr Smith said they’ve had an influx of calls since the less 100 rule was brought into place today, with members seeking advice on how to proceed.
“There’s a raft of questions because they’re got a BAS due, so they’re all trying to work out what’s happening with the superannuation, and the answer is it has to be paid. You must pay super; the government doesn’t have it within their rights to stop contributions to super at this stage,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the government will announce additional support for individuals and small businesses beyond the initial stimulus package.