Restaurants, cafes and pubs in South Australia have been forced to close for six days (including no takeaway service) from midnight Wednesday as the state goes into a strict COVID-19 lockdown to try to get a cluster of cases under control.
Adelaide-based ‘MasterChef’ contestants Rose Adam, Callum Hann, Poh Ling Yeow and Laura Sharrad’s businesses have been affected, with Rose saying she was “really devastated” to close her family-owned cafe, The Middle Store, despite knowing the lockdown is necessary.
“It’s a huge amount of time when it’s your own business,” she told HuffPost Australia over the phone on Thursday, adding she suspects the lockdown could be extended if the virus spreads.
“Right now, we’re very realistic,” she said. “We know that six days is not really going to be six days. We’re not walking around going, ‘In six days’ time it’ll go back to normal’.”
The celebrity cook, who runs the cafe with her brother and sister, had “12 hours to pack up a kitchen” on Wednesday, with some produce inevitably going to waste.
“I had stocked the fridge; my orders were coming in,” she said. “The financial cost is huge because we’re also shut for six days, which means we’re not recouping any of that money at all.”
She also told her front-of-house staff they won’t have work for at least the next week, which was a “harsh” yet unavoidable action to take.
“When everyone’s been hit so hard this year already, everyone’s struggling financially as it is, and this just felt like another harsh thing to do, but it’s completely out of our hands, so we had no choice.”
During the state’s first lockdown earlier this year, Rose operated her cafe for takeaway only, and business dropped to “15 to 20% of what it would be normally”.
Though it’s “not ideal”, she hoped the government will at least allow restaurants to do takeaway services when the lockdown rules ease.
“What we’re hoping is that hopefully in a couple of weeks’ time, the government will allow us to go back to takeaway only, and takeaway only means you can still function as a business,” she explained.
“We can change our business model like we did the first time around and at least cater to [people] taking things home for Christmas or [if they’re] doing office gatherings. Or if you’re going to do a little party in the office, we can make up little Christmas lunch boxes.”
Fellow ‘MasterChef’ contestant Callum Hann informed his Instagram followers on Wednesday that his Sprouts cooking school will postpone all classes between now and December 13.
Co-star Laura Sharrad’s Adelaide restaurant Nido, which she runs with husband Max, also informed social media followers of its closure, saying the team is “currently unaware of what will happen after our 6 day lockdown”.
Though Rose hadn’t spoken to Callum or Laura, she did touch base with ‘MasterChef’s’ Poh Ling Yeow, who has her ‘Jamface’ sweets stall at Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market every Sunday.
“I have spoken to Poh quite regularly. She’s okay,” said Rose. “We were texting this morning. I was just like, ‘I’m having a meltdown,’ but we’re okay. I think really for all of us right now what we will be focusing on is sorting our businesses out. The last 48 hours has been pretty hectic.”
South Australia had experienced a few months without any community transmission of coronavirus, but authorities reported three locally acquired cases Sunday, saying the outbreak was caused by a worker from a quarantine hotel who infected family members. By Monday, case numbers had jumped to 17, and as of Thursday were at 23.
The state’s premier Steven Marshall said on Wednesday the six-day lockdown would mean people will be restricted from going outside of their homes, with only one person per household allowed to leave each day, but only for essential items.
Masks will be required in all areas outside of the home. All schools, takeaway food, pubs, cafes and universities will be closed, along with the construction industry, which had been allowed to operate during past lockdowns in Australia.
“We’ve had to take this extreme action, this important intervention, to put a circuit breaker in place to deal with this disease,” Marshall told ABC on Wednesday.
“We have a particularly difficult strain of the disease, which is showing no symptoms for people who become infected,” he added.
When asked if six days would be enough, Marshall said, “I’m advised that that will be the time required to knock out those transmission chains for this particular strain.”
With files from Reuters.
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