GOLD COAST RETAILERS: ‘Please come back, it’s safe’
Come back, please come back, it's safe!
That's the desperate plea from Australia Fair retailers who have been struggling since one of their own was diagnosed with the coronavirus last week.
A 63-year-old beautician from Hair Plus, who had recently returned from Iran an overseas trip, was confirmed to have the COVID-19 virus. She is currently in a stable condition in the Gold Coast University Hospital.
Despite no further reported cases on the Gold Coast, the community is reportedly snubbing Australia Fair retailers.
Matahari Collections owner John Yahya, whose woman's fashion business neighbours Hair Plus, said business had been "bad' since the initial coronavirus outbreak in February but had gotten a lot worse, with takings of only $70 on a particularly slow day.
Customers have also been reluctant to visit Chris MacMahon Optometrist says employer John Nugent.
"We've made a point of ramping up our already strict hygiene practices and while our regulars are still coming in, our more mature customers are a little more concerned," he said.
"As a community we need everyone to keep functioning as they were before the coronavirus outbreak."
A lack of foot traffic is also affecting Mind Games, with staffer Anna Leahy saying she was having to ramp up the businesses social media presence and focus on drumming up online sales.
"Come back, please come back, it's safe and if we're going to get past this the community has to support local businesses and the local community.
"There's so much false information out there and it's really hurting all of us at Australia Fair," she said.
The car park, which was normally packed, had plenty of free spaces now, she added.
Matt Smith from Mister Mint said there had never been a better time to get keys cut or shoes repaired, with the shop quiet because of a lack of foot traffic.
"Yes it was quieter but since the scare upstairs it's been worse, it's been so over dramatised," he said.
Fashion retailer Cathy Hardy of Shoetique Support called on the community to stop panicking and "just get on with it so things can go back to normal".
"We've all had viruses and at the end of the day in a year's time we'll be looking back shaking our heads and saying 'remember when everyone went made and stocked up on toilet paper'."
Australia Fair centre manager Kylee Morman said Queensland Health had declared there were no safety concerns for customers, retailers or staff or increased risk of people contracting the virus following the events of February 27.
"Australia Fair is well and truly open for business, all Hair Plus team members have been cleared of the virus and Queensland Health advised staff on how to perform a thorough clean of the business premises following the diagnosis," she said.
She said centre management had conducted its own three-step sanitisation clean and, under the guidance of Queensland Health, had ensured that all of the centre's facilities and common areas had been sanitised. The centre has also installed 14 freestanding complimentary hand sanitisers throughout the centre.