Business confidence coming back as restrictions ease
THE easing of coronavirus restrictions is restoring hope in the Fraser Coast business community that the tide is finally turning.
After a difficult and diminished Easter, the region's shops, cafes, pubs and clubs have pleaded for restrictions to ease to stop businesses from going under.
Last weekend, the State Government eased regulations to allow residents to shop for non-essential items.
It's a welcome lifeline for the Fraser Coast's struggling business scene as the combined tourist shortfall and Covid-19 trading restrictions lead to a marked drop in sales.
In the last weekend alone, Dallas Harch's ice creamery bounced back to beat sales records for Saturday last year, even with the virus still hanging over the business scene.
The owner of Planet 72 Ice Creamery now says regulations should be relaxed just enough so other businesses can keep their doors open and keep surviving.
After weeks of dwindling sales and low foot traffic, Dallas Harch is convinced the tide is turning.
The owner of Hervey Bay's Planet 72 Icecreamery says the coronavirus restrictions should be relaxed just enough to let the region's ailing businesses stay afloat.
Hundreds of Fraser Coast residents took advantage of the easing regulations over the long weekend to shop.
Even with the virus still lingering, sales at Planet 72 Icecreamery on Saturday beat records for the same time last year.
Mr Harch said it could otherwise be called a "normal weekend" in these circumstances.
But he said it was still a long road to recovery for the region's business scene, even with the laws relaxing.
"If pubs can re-open in a way that still allows that social distancing like we've all had to do, I can't see a reason why we can't do that," Mr Harch said.
"We're coming into winter so who knows how the virus will react in cooler weather.
"You've got to be positive, but cautious."
The State Government has flagged June as the target month for cafes and restaurants to open their doors, subject to advice from medical experts.
As businesses shut their doors because of government restrictions, Mr Harch said his business has also taken a hit, now 30 per cent down on sales compared to last year.
He said he had to reduce night hours because of restaurants closing but was otherwise able to keep his doors open.
"In our case, if it wasn't for that many years in the bank of hard work and consistent trading across public holidays, we would have taken a massive hit," Mr Harch said.