SUPPORT OUR ‘HURTING’ ISLAND CAFE INDUSTRY THANKS TO SELF-IMPOSED RESTRICTIONS Our Bay Islands are following the ‘trend’ of the Brisbane CBD and elsewhere when it comes to self-imposed restrictions. The Brisbane CBD is known to be hurting with people ‘staying away’ from the usually popular destination. And coffee consumption around Australia is down about 40% as a result of a nation-wide trend that is also being mirrored around the world. A similar outcome is happening on our islands. In fact, it has become so serious that the future of some business is at stake, particularly in the cafe industry. Why many incomes are ‘protected’ by types of employment, it is clear that small private businesses are bearing the ‘brunt’ of the current Covid Omicron pandemic. As it seems to be rapidly transferring to ‘endemic’ with many restrictions being lifted and easing, the message isn’t quite getting through to the community at large. Clearly islanders are ‘staying away’ from some local businesses. Christina Bollenbach of the Willow and Oak centre on Macleay Island, is a prime example. Christina owns the complex as well as operating the organic fruit shop and the popular cafe. It has been boosted further of late with the opening of Porto Homes and Gifts, a new business addition to the islands. Despite all this, visitation is down on normal trade. “I think there is a ‘self-imposed lockdown’ going on here on the islands. “People are staying away from island businesses. “I also think the proof of vaccination status is also having an impact,” Christina said. “People are reluctant to return to their former active lives and are continuing to stay at home due to uncertainty.” Whilst some regulations have been eased for many businesses of late, not so for the cafe industry. “I am rather bemused that people have to wear a mask into a cafe, but can then take it off when they sit down. “I also don’t know how much longer this can go on. “Small business is bearing the brunt and our incomes are impacted, whilst others, particularly in the public sector, keep getting paid regardless. “I just hope that the regulations are eased further soon an all restrictions on our industry are removed,” Christina added. She is supported by many others in the sector. Natalie Dart from the Scorpion Cafe agreed. “We were closed for nearly a month due to Covid on the islands, and we have noticed a downturn. “We are hopeful that things will really start pickup up now that many of the restrictions are now being lifted,” Natalie said. So let’s get behind our island cafe industry in particular and get out and enjoy the local island foods, fare and coffee. By the way, you will be more than pleasantly surprised at the fare at Willow and Oak with an exciting island chef providing some really interesting brunch n lunch delights.
• Christina at Willow and Oak on Macleay Island