Living in lockdown on the Peninsula

Ettalong Diggers

The first week of the July school holidays was traditionally a peak time for Peninsula businesses but since Saturday, June 27, they have been processing cancellations and standing down staff in response to the NSW Government’s two-week lockdown of Greater Sydney.

Stay-at-home orders were announced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at 2pm on Saturday, June 26 for Greater Sydney including the Central Coast in response to the spread of a COVID-19 outbreak that started in Bondi on June 17.

CEO of Ettalong Diggers Memorial Club, Bill Jackson, said the July winter school holiday was generally a peak time for businesses on the Peninsula.

“People don’t seem to travel so far away from home at this time of the year, so they tend to come to the Coast,” Jackson said.

He said the club had responded to the lockdown announcement by closing its doors and standing down all of its 128 staff.

Ettalong Diggers is a large club with healthy reserves, according to Jackson, so it can survive the lockdown, but he is concerned about the survival of other local small business operators dependent on the tourism trade.

“We made a decision as a business that we would be seen to be robbing the other mum and dad businesses if we did takeaway so we decided we would not do that,” he said.

“I worry about all the cafes and restaurants on the Peninsula,” he said.

Jackson said he was aware of at least 102 local businesses that were running take-away services in an effort to keep operating through the lockdown, which is due to cease on July 9 if the outbreak can be contained by then.

“I look at July and August as being peak months for the registered clubs on the Coast so it must be the same for the hotels and other businesses,” he said.

“We’ve got reserves but it is still costing over $20,000 a day just not to have the place operating.”

The decision to stand down all staff except for one manager who is answering calls was made because it would enable employees to access any benefits made available.

The NSW Government’s assistance for small businesses of up to $10,000 will assist local operators who can demonstrate a significant loss in turnover, but Bill Jackson said the maximum available was “not even a day’s worth of bills”.

Immediate staff are not the only ones impacted when a business like Ettalong Diggers is forced to close.

“We have seven cleaners who are now unemployed, seven security staff who are now unemployed, then there’s all the stuff we order from local businesses – our $5000
weekly fruit and vegetables order, our orders with two local butchers and a local seafood provider.

“As soon as we heard about the lockdown the first thing we did was cancel our entertainment,” Jackson said.

The Mantra Resort in the same building as Diggers was closed and processing cancellations.

Other operators, such as the Boat House Hotel at Patonga, were practicing positivity by offering free delivery for their takeaway menu, half-priced pizzas and other measures.

Manager Brooke Yanz said the Boat House had no guests for the duration of the lockdown, but guests were showing enthusiasm for moving their bookings to the next school holiday.

Ocean Beach Hotel in Umina was in complete lockdown with no services available until July 9.

The Everglades at Woy Woy was also offering a takeaway service.

Jackie Pearson