THE COVID-19 pandemic continued to bite into Oberon's economic and social life this week, with further staff lay-offs, the closure of some services and the Federal Government restricting gatherings to two people.
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Businesses large and small are hurting, with trade markedly down in at least one sector.
Shops and other businesses have increasingly made customers more aware of social distancing (keep 1.5 metres apart) with floor markings and signage.
Chairs in places such as Oberon Pharmacy and Oberon Medical Centre are 1.5m apart, and the Medical Centre is also asking patients to wait in their cars if necessary.
Patients feeling unwell are being asked to telephone the practice first and have a phone consultation to determine any risk factors and decide on further action.
Businesses are also restricting the number of customers into their premises, with Oberon Veterinary and Animal Centre allowing only one person in at a time.
And in another development, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has asked Sydneysiders to stay away from regional NSW.
He said this was critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 to the regions.
In addition to closures announced last week, Oberon Council has now shut the library and the administration centre, with residents asked to phone (6329 8100) or contact electronically if they have any council business.
The skate park has also closed, in line with Federal Government instructions.
Any Service NSW business which would normally be available at the council office can now be accessed on the Service NSW portal or phone 13 77 88, which is open around the clock.
Mayor Kathy Sajowitz said that while the caravan park is still operating, The Reef Reserve and the showground have been closed to campers.
She said that regardless of comments on social media, the council cannot close the town or roads to people coming here, because it does not have the legislative power.
"This is where individual responsibility comes in," she said.
Ratepayers who have lost their jobs and are suffering hardship are advised to get in touch with the council regarding their rates.
IGA operator Metcash Australia has, like other supermarket chains, advised stores on steps covering things such as hygiene and store practice.
These include cleaning high touch areas such as surfaces and trolley and basket handles multiple times a day and asking customers to keep a trolley distance apart.
Shoppers are also being asked to wash or sanitise their hands before going into the store, where they will pack their own groceries and pay by credit card if possible.
Floor stickers reminding customers of social distancing will also be sent out to all stores.
"The health and wellbeing of our local customers, communities and teams is our highest priority," Metcash's Anne King said.
Ian Mawhood, at Mawhood's Supa IGA, said suppliers and stores are doing their very best to meet increased demand and keep the shelves stocked as much as possible.
"The increase in product going through the supply chain to meet demand is unbelievable," he said.
"Everyone is really doing everything they can."
Customers were behaving "pretty well" considering they cannot always get everything they want.
The store's recently introduced online click-and collect pick-up scheme is picking up considerably, and Mr Mawhood said he may have to put on extra staff if the increase continues.
"The Friday before last we had five or six orders, last Friday it had risen to 26, and at the start of this week it was 28," he said.
One sector doing it tough is the motor business.
Michael Patterson, at Oberon Motors, said that business had dropped off so much because car owners were staying at home that he had been forced to cut back the hours of his mechanic.
"Normally with Easter coming up it would be a boom time because people would want their cars serviced before going away, but this year they are staying at home," he said.
He has also tightened up on distance restrictions.
"I am asking customers to phone ahead as usual for a time to drop off their vehicle, but the workshop is now out of bounds and vehicles have to be left in the driveway, and they will be returned there.
"Invoices will be sent out electronically and payment can be the same way."
Oberon Smash Repairs owner Andrew Yeo has experienced a similar impact.
"It's not real good," he said. "People are staying at home and not using their cars, so there is less call for my kind of work. Normally we would have maybe five jobs a week, but next week we have only two booked in."
As a result, he has had to lay off his two casual workers.
However, in an effort to retain his permanent staff, he welcomed the $1500 a fortnight wage subsidy package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday, and said he would "most definitely" be registering for it.
"This is certainly something that will stimulate the economy," he said.
"All we need to do is get through the next few weeks because it does not kick in until mid-May, but then the money is retrospective."
He is also asking owners to leave their vehicles in the yard and will also carry out the invoicing and payment process electronically.
It will be some time before the real estate market might feel any effect from the pandemic, according to Ray White Emms Mooney principal Pat Bird.
"It's too early to carry out any sort of analysis," he said. "Sellers are still wanting to sell, and buyers are still wanting to buy. And there is still strong interest from Sydney people looking to buy a property.
"The rental market is also stable because of the high employment in Oberon, and with rents at an average of $300 a week, they are affordable."
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