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Our hearts go out to Melbourne, once again in lockdown, their 4th since the Covid-19 pandemic began, promoting some of us to wonder why one state has been forced to shut down more than any other in the past year. Is it contact tracing? A more virulent virus? Is it the colder climate? Or is it just bad luck?

It is reported a seven-day lockdown can cost the state more than $1 billion in direct sales, let alone the fact it is now extended with most Melbournians doubting they will be free by 11:59pm Thursday 10th June. They’ve heard it all before.

The hospitality industry has been hit hard, with many venues forced into permanent closure that hadn’t yet fully recovered from previous lockdowns. The fact there is no JobKeeper this time around puts even more stress of venue owners with the responsibility of staff layoffs, with no clear end in sight.

Impos venue, The Kettle Black cafe in South Melbourne has reverted back to a takeaway-only service model. Assistant manager Georgia O’Sullivan has had to lay off almost half of the 20 employees, including young university students.

“This time round, we can’t just have our JobKeeper workers on. We’re back to a massive impact to the business, in terms of wage costs. We have to absorb them completely. We have said to staff: ‘If you’re nearby, come get food, get coffee.’ But for many of our young staffers, they’re very much on their own.”

She said young people have been resourceful during the pandemic in finding multiple income streams, but it has been distressing to start rebuilding the business, only to lay staff off again.

“And this is not the first time, they have been stepped down by us. During the last lockdown, we had to step down the same staff. And there is rhetoric (from politicians) that this is just part of it. And it is actually just crazy that in the workforce we say to young people: ‘just step down’. It is kind of a weird normal, our new reality.”

Ms O’Sullivan said the business will be down to an eighth of what it has been for a one week-long lockdown, not to mention the thousands of dollars in food wastage.

“We were heading into the weekend, which is our biggest sales. We sit almost 300 people every Saturday and Sunday – and we’re just not going to get that. We’ve said goodbye to an almost $25,000-weekend.”

But the heartbreaking part is that the business had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“It is almost worst this time around because we got that glimpse of normalcy. The pandemic – we had almost compartmentalised it, thinking we were back to normal.

Now the jump back into pandemic takeaway world… I think it is the jump that is so sad.”

She said she does not expect the business to permanently fold as it is owned by an enterprise that has “lots of different things going on in other pots”.

Impos has been hit hard also, we’ve been in the hospitality business now for 15 years and have just been trying to support our customers as best we can. It is challenging to even know how often to communicate with customers this time around as everyone reacts differently, some able to stay buoyant, while others suffering from a sense of dread and anxiety. We appreciate and respect a lot of people have Covid-comms fatigue and just want to be left alone.

We have taken great care since the pandemic started last March to spread the #supportyourlocal messaging. We feel the only way through as a business and a team is to try and maintain a sense of positivity and community, sharing our customer’s content vigilantly 7 days a week, as well as a drive internally for Impos staff to make an extra effort to order online from their local. Who knew that going out for a walk and grabbing a takeaway latte could actually be the highlight of your day? This once again has become the new normal for Melbournians grappling with the uncertainty of another lockdown, with their plans, time with family, and work up in the air, seemingly overnight.

Impos and The San Telmo Group dish up 1,000 Free Hospo Meals

We really wanted to do something to reflect our genuine love and support for Melbourne’s hospitality industry and are excited to also be a part of the partnership with the San Telmo Group to dish up 1,000 FREE meals to out of work hospo workers! Across 4 days during lockdown (Monday 7 – Thursday 10 June), San Telmo’s beloved chefs will serve free take-home meals from their Southbank restaurant, Asado

Help us spread the message and for any hospo workers keen for a good feed, register now

We also hope to make your life a little easier with our local Customer Support team continuing to work around the clock and hand hold you through any POS needs as you transition into a takeaway menu.

So how do we stay positive? Be kind to yourselves, and each other. Try and #supportyourlocal. Order the takeaway, re-arrange your trip away instead of completely cancelling, shop at the small local stores instead of the larger supermarket outlets. Take time to be grateful, because there is no doubt there are so many people around the world suffering far more greatly that you are.

“We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same STORM.
Some of us are in yachts, and some of us are in rowboats, some are clinging to driftwood.
We are all in different boats in the same storm”.