Rainbow Beach SLSC nippers age carnival.
Rainbow Beach SLSC nippers age carnival. Garry Hewitt

Coronavirus: More Gympie events shut in face of pandemic

UPDATE: SPORTS events and community gatherings continue to shut across the region as the coronavirus pandemic rolls on.

Surf Life Saving Queensland's nippers events at Rainbow Beach have been suspended until further notice, adding to a shutdown list already sporting the likes of rugby league, rugby union and AFL.

Community groups have been forced to shutter their doors too.

The Belli Community Hall Committee has postponed dances until further notice, the Gympie Senior Citizens Club is closed until at June 2 or further notice, and the Gympie AP $ S League's charity concern was cancelled.

These closure follow from last night's decision by the Gympie District Show Society to cancel Gympie's 2020 Show.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18: BUSINESSES have begun to feel the sting of the coronavirus pandemic, with one saying the global outbreak would hit like a "sledgehammer". 

 

Branch and Blossom owner Jan Jones was already feeling the effects of the pandemic with the loss of Anzac Day events and changes to wedding days following the introduction of restrictions on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.  

"Our trade is down 50 per cent," she said .

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And it was the casual staff caught in the crossfire.  

"I really don't have a choice," she said.  

And this was only the start of the squeeze.  

"I don't envision we'll have our normal wedding season in September-November," she said.  

Inevitable restrictions on the range of flowers and other items available compounded the issue.  

Mrs Jones said the shop could survive for a few months through measures like not drawing a wage.  

But she hoped there would be other measures in play so businesses are not forced to limp along before shutting their doors.  

"The government could offer tax breaks to small businesses," she said.  

Chamber of Commerce president Tony Goodman said other CBD businesses began to feel the pandemic's financial pinch yesterday - but not all.  

Sitting in the number 7 spot for the 2019 Power 30 is Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Tony Goodman.
Sitting in the number 7 spot for the 2019 Power 30 is Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Tony Goodman. Donna Jones

"One trader hadn't noticed a drop in trade," Mr Goodman said.  

However, he was "quite shocked to hear from a couple of traders they hadn't seen a customer all day.  

"You could fire a gun down Mary St without hitting anyone (yesterday)," he said  

The hope was the financial impact was already starting to bottom out based on previous collapses like the Global Financial Crisis.  

"The difference is we didn't have to shut down borders and stop mass gatherings (then)," Mr Goodman said.  

Coming on the heels of a slow Christmas, the drought and the bushfires, he said the pandemic was like a "sledgehammer" to businesses.  

"Some of the businesses were hanging on by their toenails before Christmas," he said.  

"However we will get through it."  

Kim Walters had hope, too. 

The Little Kids Day Out organiser said she still hoped the September event would be on.  

Little Kids Day Out Kim Walters, Sheila Kath, Barb Yule, Bob Leitch, Deb McCarthy, Jane Gunn, Luke Harriman and Marion Sillett.
Little Kids Day Out Kim Walters, Sheila Kath, Barb Yule, Bob Leitch, Deb McCarthy, Jane Gunn, Luke Harriman and Marion Sillett. Renee Albrecht

"We may be OK," she said  

"If it was July we would have cancelled it. It would be a real shame (to cancel) … but in these times there are far more important things."  

Other community and sports events have continued to fall in the face of the pandemic, though.  

 The Gympie Bowls Club on  Southside  will shut its doors from March 23 in response to the pandemic, and the Community Solar Association has also pulled the plug on its EnviroTech Day at Nelson Reserve.    

St Patrick's anti-bullying Day of Action and its prep open morning were axed by the school, and Gympie Landcare postponed all  workshops and events.  

But the impact has moved beyond the loss of some of the region's largest events like Anzac Day commemorations and Easter on Mary.  

Mary Street, Gympie traders prepare for Easter on Mary on Wednesday, April 1st from 5.00pm to 9.00pm. In front from left is Jan Murphy from Karinya Florist and Gifts with Tracey Clarke from Unearthed Street Wear.     Photo Greg Miller / Gympie Times
Mary Street, Gympie traders prepare for Easter on Mary on Wednesday, April 1st from 5.00pm to 9.00pm. In front from left is Jan Murphy from Karinya Florist and Gifts with Tracey Clarke from Unearthed Street Wear. Photo Greg Miller / Gympie Times Greg Miller

The Gympie Times' office hours have changed in response to the pandemic; the office will be open from 8.30am-4pm, but shut between 11am-12.30pm.  

Aldi's shopping hours have been cut in response to pandemic panic buying, too.  

All stores will now trade from 9.30am-7pm, unless other restrictions reply.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18: EASTER on Mary, Imbil's Jungle Love music festival and Gympie's next race day have all been axed as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Chamber of Commerce president and Mary St festival founder Tony Goodman said the loss of Easter on Mary was "gut-wrenching".

"But I get the fact it's got to be closed down," he said.

"People have got to keep calm and keep on keeping on."

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The three events join a growing list of sports and community gatherings to pull the plug in the past few days.

Anzac Day commemorations were cancelled on Monday, and the future of this year's Gympie Show is under debate at an emergency meeting tonight.

Jungle Love has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
Jungle Love has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

A Gympie Turf Club spokesman said the April 4 race would be held with no patrons, in line with Racing Queensland advice.

The Gympie Devils rugby league joined a growing list of sports clubs forced to suspend their seasons, and USC announced its April graduations had been cancelled.

Entertainment has taken a hit, too.

The Great Moscow Circus has cancelled its scheduled stand in Gympie with organiser Mark Edgely saying it was a difficult decision but necessary for health and safety.

"We had to cancel, obviously, given the current situation," Mr Edgely said.

"We're on standby for the time being."

There was no date for when the Moscow Circus would return.

Ebony and The Great Moscow Circus have cancelled their Gympie stand.
Ebony and The Great Moscow Circus have cancelled their Gympie stand.

"No-one can answer that question - even restaurants are starting to feel the impact," he said.

"But we will be back and when we do, you'll be the first to know."

The Gympie Garden Expo was another casualty, cancelling their plans to host what would have been their 20th and last meeting.

The pandemic has forced changes in other industries as well.

One Gympie GP said yesterday she was trying to protect her patients by not having them wait in a waiting room, but in their cars instead.

As each appointment begins, she conducts a preliminary consultation via the phone with her patient, assessing their health and the situation before ushering them straight through into her consultation room.

One GP is urging patients to wait in their cars before their appointments.
One GP is urging patients to wait in their cars before their appointments.

"There are no chairs and no magazines (in what was the waiting room)," she said.

"I basically have no waiting room right now."

Gympie's schools remain open but officials and principals were keeping a close eye on a fluid situation.

Cooloola Christian College principal Trevor Norman said the school was heeding advice from the authorities.

"We have increased measures to ensure good hygiene and cleaning practices," Mr Norman said.

"Doors and windows of classrooms and buildings are being left open.

Brett Costin. Picture: Shane Zahner
Brett Costin. Picture: Shane Zahner

"We are also educating our students and staff around hand washing and hygiene."

Victory College principal Brett Costin said the school was also watching official advice.

But there were plans in place for lessons to be delivered online if needed.

A Department of Education spokesman said efforts to manage and contain the outbreak were ongoing - especially in light of the ban on gatherings of 500 people or more.

"While the announcement was very clear this does not apply to schools. It will include activities such as fetes, fairs, concerts, etc where they involve more than 500 people," the spokesman said.

Gympie Times


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