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Victoria comes out of its latest COVID-19 blockade with the opening of schools, celebrating parents and businesses again




Melbourne’s mother, Karin Johnson is one of many parents across Victoria today celebrating the reopening of schools following the end of Victoria’s third blockade.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced that Victoria would end its five-day blockade of COVID-19, which was designed as a “circuit breaker” to help quell a virus outbreak linked to the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel. at Melbourne Airport.

Schools, hospitality venues and retail businesses will reopen as offices can be restored to 50 per cent of their workforce capacity.

For Ms. Johnson and her husband, the third blockade meant a return to the “exhausting” challenge of cheating from home and helping to teach their two school-age daughters.

Social worker Elwood said she and her husband had helped each other with work and family responsibilities, but there were times when things did not work out perfectly.

“The pressure of work doesn’t stop, so it just means very long days with the addition of jobs, but that’s something I’m going to deal with next week.”

Ms Johnson said she had felt better prepared to tackle home schooling this time after the long experience of his passing last year.

She said there would be an adjustment period for her daughters Astrid and Emily as they returned to class.

Astrid and Emily smiled at the camera, the day before they returned to school.
On Thursday, Astrid and Emily will be back in first and second grade classes at school after five days of homework.(ABC News: Barrie Pullen)

Hospitality businesses reopen, but reduced staff hours

At the Melbourne CBD, businessman Tiffy Sze was preparing to reopen her rooftop bar after the third closing of the block.

The time of the last closure was not great for her, she was about to reopen a second city bar she owned, which had been closed since Melbourne’s second blockade last year.

“We were trying to recover from the previous blockage and then reopen,” she said.

Tiffy Sze stands on the balcony of her bar in front of a Melbourne city backdrop.
Tiffy Sze was happy that Melbourne’s third closing was over after five days.(ABC News: Barrie Pullen)

She planned to reopen her businesses Thursday but said she expected she would also need to reduce working hours for her staff.

“It’s not something I want to do because everyone needs a certain amount of money to live,” she said.

“All my staff, we’re all like a family, we always go out to dinner together during the day when we’re not shopping, we celebrate together, so [cutting hours] it’s the worst thing I do not want to do. “

Tiffy Sze stands behind a bar cleaning glasses.
Tiffy Sze has re-ordered shares so she can open the Goldilocks Rooftop Bar at CBD Melbourne on Thursday.(ABC News: Barrie Pullen)

Ms Sze said conditions were difficult for the hospitality industry, especially in the city center, which has been without many office workers, but she also understood why difficult decisions had to be made.

She said she was grateful that the last closure was only the last five days.

Celebrant says wedding industry needs further support after more job lost

When the Prime Minister announced Victoria’s five-day blockade last Friday, Mont Albert Mona Chung-Chao wedding celebrant immediately contacted the three couples she had booked to get married that coming weekend.

The two couples decided to delay their big day, but one of the couples moved quickly to get married on Friday night before the blockage started.

The wedding celebrant said she had spoken to the relieved couples who had booked to get married this coming weekend after the announcement was made that the state would reopen.

Mona Chung-Chao speaks into a microphone at a wedding.
Wedding celebrant Mona Chung-Chao will return to work this weekend after the Melbourne blockade is completed.(Added: Mona Chung-Chao)

But Ms. Chung-Chao said many wedding suppliers were left feeling lost after losing another working week last weekend.

She said florists and catering companies would have ordered supplies that were not used, while photographers, venues and make-up artists simply lost more bookings.

Ms Chung-Chao said the wedding industry consisted mainly of small family businesses and she had sought more support to get through the blockages.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews yesterday said the premature blockade was necessary to contain the latest blast.

He said announcements about support for businesses hit hard by the blockade would be made “when we are able to do so”.

The builder calls for compensation in the future as the blockage costs him thousands of dollars

David Rowe stands in front of a house.
Ballarat builder David Rowe was forced to suspend work on his construction business due to Victoria’s premature blockade.(ABC News: Sarah Jane Bell)

The president of the Association of Master Builders in Ballarat said if there were further blockages of the circuit outage, compensation should be provided to businesses.

David Rowe is also the managing director of Bond Homes, a company that builds portable homes and employs 20 staff.

He said the premature blockade forced many in the industry to lay off staff or seek to take annual leave.

It was the first time regional builders were forced to stop work in Victoria.

Mr Rowe said it was a brawl to stop production, with trade, shipments of materials and work in place reserved months ago.

“I feel next time, if this happens, we will have to look at some compensation with the government due to the loss of production and the obligation to pay employees,” Mr Rowe said.

He said the five-day blockade had been costly for his business.

“Now we are behind and we have to try and achieve.”

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said businesses needed more clarity on how decisions are made to get stuck.

Chief executive Paul Guerra said: “Victorian businesses have carried the flow of failures in hotel quarantine and contact tracking systems.”

He said the state should have managed COVID-19 risk without endangering its economy.

“We need to put our economy first and find ways to manage our borders that do not compromise our economy and livelihood,” he said.

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