ACT records 24 new cases of COVID-19 at the start of the first weekend of eased retail restrictions

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The ACT recorded 24 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 as Canberrans began their first weekend since retail stores reopened.

There are 19 people in the hospital with the virus, including 12 ICU patients – four of whom require ventilation.

There are currently 400 active cases in the ACT.

Of those Canberrans 12 and over, 85.9 percent are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to health officials, 1,445 negative test results were recorded in the 24 hours to 9 a.m. today.

“A great feeling of positivity”

Alison Kay, the co-owner of the Dymocks store at the Canberra Center, has urged people to shop locally.(abc news)

Retailers are experiencing their first weekend of in-person trading since the lockdown began on August 12th.

The ACT government announced earlier this week that it would lift restrictions on retailers so that they can reopen below capacity starting Friday.

One person per 4 square meters is allowed in a building and people must ensure that they are using the check-in CBR app and that they are wearing masks at all times.

Queues outside stores like IKEA and Bunnings were seen on Friday afternoon when people took the opportunity to shop in person for the first time in 10 weeks.

Canberra Business Chamber executive director Graham Catt said it was a mostly positive first day for businesses across the capital.

“There’s a great positive attitude out there – everyone we talk to is buzzing, everyone is excited,” said Mr. Catt.

Mr Catt said they focused on encouraging Canberrans to support local businesses, but said that even those efforts may not be enough for some.

“Unfortunately, the reality is for some people [it’s] a bittersweet day … for some people the result of the lockdown in the past eight or nine weeks has been a tough decision that they may not be able to continue, “he said.

Alison Kay, a co-owner of Dymocks at the Canberra Center, said they are excited to reopen.

Ms. Kay said that while they saw a “steady stream” of customers, it had not become overwhelming as several other store owners chose not to reopen.

The store has been on a click-and-collect model since late August and she said it was “really difficult”.

“It’s not a way to run a business, there’s not enough money in it so it was a huge relief,” she said.

She urged Canberrans to “support their local businesses”.

“Whether it’s cafes or retail stores like ours, they have to help us all get back on track and make up for the lost months when we didn’t make any money,” she said.

She also urged people to do their Christmas shopping early.

Brian Tunks at Bison
Brian Tunks reopened his Bison nursery in Pialligo on Friday, but won’t open his Braddon store until October 29th.(Delivered)

A staged reopening for some

For Brian Tunks, who runs three stores in Canberra, including Bison in Pialligo, the reopening was a happy moment, but not without concerns.

“I’ll be honest and say I was pretty nervous – I didn’t want it to be a large number of people … that goes against the premise of a reopening,” said Mr Tunks.

However, he said that customers at his Pialligo store followed the social distancing rules.

“People were delighted to be outside and talk to you,” he said.

“You could say that people were just happy to go out … that was actually quite touching.”

While they were reopening two of their stores, Mr Tunks said they couldn’t do this for their Braddon outlet just yet.

The decision to relax restrictions was made less than a week before the reopening date and he said they were not ready to open the doors as some electrical work was still going on.

He said the Braddon store will open on October 29th, the original retail reopening date set on the ACT government’s roadmap after the lockdown.

“You can’t get all of the ducks in a few days in a row,” he said.


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