Cafes and restaurants in Muswellbrook adapt following COVID-19 restrictions

STAYING OPEN: Eatons Hotel restaurant owner Amelia Ryan is keeping the doors open for take away orders, along with chefs Jordan Pavey and Levi Hewell.
STAYING OPEN: Eatons Hotel restaurant owner Amelia Ryan is keeping the doors open for take away orders, along with chefs Jordan Pavey and Levi Hewell.

IN the face of all adversity, businesses in Muswellbrook are standing strong and finding ways to operate during testing times.

The federal and NSW government announcements on Sunday and Monday, March 23 and 23, have crippled the capabilities of restaurants and cafes around the nation, but local eateries refuse to give up.

Whether it be developing a delivery system or putting the accelerator on their meal prep time so they can function as a take-away venue, they are doing their best to keep doors open.

The likes of Munchies, Kasha Coffee Lounge and Tea Shrine will prepare some food and drinks to go, while the newly-opened Cattle Dog Cafe and Florist will continue to sell flowers and gifts.

Popular local coffee shop Double Picc has also acted swiftly to ensure everyone can still have their morning caffeine hit.

Owner Simon Davis has revealed their intention to stay open between 7am and 11am, serving take-away coffee and cake on a card-only bases.

Ensuring people don't remain static and abide by the national social distancing measures has, in a way, been made easier by Muswellbrook Shire Council's (MSC) ruling to remove the furniture they own, meaning people must move on after receiving their order - similar action has been taken at Muswellbrook Marketplace.

Mr Davis stated the decision to continue operating wasn't an easy one, and he had to take the financial implications into consideration.

"It's hard because I've got to look after my staff and keep people employed," he said.

"I've got a couple of ideas but I've just got to wait and see what the government is going to provide us with, so we just have to hurry up and wait."

It was only through social media the business owner found out his work life was about to be turned upside down, but admitted he will be keeping a close eye on updates as the situation develops.

The role of online news and advertising will be hugely important throughout the process, as highlighted by Eatons Hotel restaurant manager Amelia Ryan, who is trying to promote the fact they are still serving take-away meals.

Due to its usual status as a pub, the restaurant is also allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, which have been in high demand since it was announced all hotels and clubs must shut until further notice.

Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison only detailing the extent of the shutdown on Sunday night, Ms Ryan said she had spent a while thinking about how her business could be sustained through potential COVID-19 related restrictions.

"We were aiming to do that [stay open] anyway, we were hoping that would be given to us as an option but it depended on what the government said," she explained.

Ultimately the outcome wasn't as bad as initially feared, with reports on Sunday afternoon making it appear as if pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes would be forced to close completely.

Because of that, Ms Ryan admitted there was an element of relief when they found out it was possible to continue serving customers in any fashion.

"That really scared us a lot, and we thought we'd have a little bit of time to navigate that, but obviously it happened very quickly," she said.

"So, we just had to take whatever steps we could to stay open and keep our staff in jobs."

Their opening hours will be between noon and 7.30pm from Monday to Friday.

While employers such as these are fighting to avoid lay-offs and remain in operation, the outcome will ultimately be up to the public during this time.

Now more than ever, buying locally is a must as even staples of the Muswellbrook community are forced to perform near-acrobatic levels of flexibly due to constantly changing messages coming from above as the coronavirus spreads.

This is also the attitude of Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush, who is calling on residents to rally behind their favourite local outlets.

"We ask the community to support local restaurants and cafes by purchasing from their take away menus," he said.

"Council has made arrangements to meet with local clubs to work through a strategy of ensuring that each one of them comes through to the other side of the crisis."

The message of self-isolation and protecting the vulnerable members of society are obviously still in place however, and necessary precautions should be practised to ensure cases to not rise.

There are currently no confirmed cases in the Upper Hunter.