The spread of COVID-19 across the globe, and the State and Federal government announcements of lockdown for nonessential industries here, has had a huge impact on the economy right across the world, and East Gippsland is not being left out.
“Orbost has not been hit too hard by truckloads of people coming in and buying in excess, however we have seen a lot of excessive purchases made in response to announcements that the government put out in response to COVID-19 from locals,” Orbost FoodWorks store owner, Steve Price, said.
“Our sales have gone through the roof in a sense during the last week. Everyone has bought up but the problems that we are having is that the stuff that is missing from the shelves then triggers people to panic buy further. People just need to calm down. The other problem now is supply – 50 per cent of stock that is on tonight’s (Monday) truck is only replacing 10 per cent of the missing lines in the store. I ordered 150 cartons of toilet roll and I have been given three.”
Delivery times are another issue that the supermarket is facing. The truck due to arrive on Monday night was already 72 hours behind schedule.
Yet some positivity shone through with the dairy/frozen truck that arrived on Monday arriving on time.
“The produce market has also gone through the roof as it is based on supply and demand,” Steve said.
“Given that we are coming out of a drought it would be unlikely that those prices will come back. It is to be expected, however I don’t understand how people are storing two or three kilos of broccoli at home,” chuckles Steve.
Steve’s advice is simple.
“Shop as you can, as we are still getting stock and we will continue to do so,” he said.
It’s a similar situation at Morrison’s Meat Shop.
Brett Morrison said the shop in Orbost, as well as their store in Lakes Entrance, has been “really, really busy”.
“It started about Friday a week ago and since then each day has brought something new,” he said.
“People were buying up big early on in the piece with lots going into survival mode. Now it seems to have hit home and today (Monday), they’ve calmed down. It’s hit home and they’re a bit more serious about the whole thing.
“Customers are buying about a week’s worth at a time, others were going overboard. I’d suggest they buy say an extra 10 meals and freeze them.
“We’re taking each day as it comes and will follow any directive. For now, we’re business as usual.”
CANCELLATIONS AND POSTPONEMENTS
With the Federal and State government announcements over the weekend effectively locking down venues to curb the spread of COVID-19, few local events over the coming weeks will be going ahead.
After careful consideration, Bemm River CFA has regrettably postponed its 27th Easter Annual Fundraiser, Fish n Chip Night, normally held on Easter Sunday. The drawing of their Major Raffle will still take place.
“With ongoing coronavirus concerns and cancellation of large group gatherings, it would be irresponsible not only to the public but to brigade members to put anyone in a situation where the virus could arise from the large group of supporters,” Captain Russell Pardew said.
The brigade will hold the event later in the year.
Parks Victoria’s Junior Rangers activities have been postponed until further notice, including the events that still remained on the severely reduced program for the Wild Harvest Festival in Mallacoota in early April.
The Orbost Exhibition Centre has regretfully decided that the Wood Design Exhibition will not go ahead.
“With most live events cancelled or postponed around the world, the Orbost Exhibition Centre Committee would have liked to have held the Wood Design Exhibition over Easter after already postponing it from January due to the fires,” chairperson, Deb Foskey, said.
She said the riskaverse thing to do was to cancel the Wood Design Exhibition.
“The committee is considering whether to display a few pieces from our permanent collection in empty shop fronts, which have been offered by generous shop owners.
“If government restrictions allow, we will put the Banners of Hope on display in Forest Park on selected (fine) days in Easter, so watch this space for details.
“Like most organisations in our district, we rely totally on volunteers. We welcome new people to our committee or to assist with running events so we can make maximum use of our beautiful building. There are many performers and events, which can be held in our building after this crisis blows over.
“Meanwhile we are concerned that Orbost people have been whacked by a duo of ‘unprecedented’ events this year and would like to do all we can within the narrow range allowed to enliven our community.
“We are delighted that Ros Crisp, dancer and choreographer, is our Regional Arts Victoria artist-in-residence. She has already held one very successful open studio and we hope that the coronavirus threat does not get in the way of more public events over the year.”
Marlo Primary School’s Easter Fete will also be cancelled, including the Go East market that was to be incorporated into the event.
“It is very regrettable that we have had to make the decision,” principal, Matt Barlee, said.
“It’s disappointing but we wanted to do so sooner rather than later so we could advise stalls holders of our plans.”
Numerous other events have or will be cancelled. Visit the relevant websites and Facebook pages for details.
Students across the state began their holidays early yesterday as another attempt to reduce the coronavirus spread.
While it is no doubt inconvenient for many, Marlo Primary School’s Matt Barlee is looking at the silver lining.
“We’re taking it as a wonderful opportunity for students to spend valuable time with their families, especially after the fires of the summer holidays,” he said.
“Our students love their summer holidays, spending time with their families, but they missed out on that this year. In terms of studies, we’ve told our kids that the holidays are holidays.
“We gave them two things to do on their holidays; one, make sure they have fun, and two, make sure they go outside, get fresh air and be active. When term two starts, whether it’s here at the school or at home, the students will certainly be provided with the learning opportunities they require.”
With the government announcements including the banning of nonessential travel, holiday parks, including the East Gippsland Shire Council owned Mallacoota Foreshore Holiday Park and Cann River Rainforest Caravan Park, have been told to close. Eagle Point Caravan Park and Swifts Creek Caravan and Tourist Park are also closing.
This is a devastating blow for the communities of Far East Gippsland that were hoping for a taste of tourism recovery over the usually busy Easter period.
Shire service centres at Mallacoota, Orbost, Omeo, and Lakes Entrance will be open for council and agency enquires, but not library services. Shire recreation centres are also closed until April 30 including Orbost Outdoor Pool.
IMAGE: Crowds start to form outside Orbost FoodWorks last Friday as they wait for the delayed opening to allow for restocking of shelves. (PS)