Tomaree Business Chamber presidents calls for unity, face masks and leadership

Tomaree Business Chamber president Leah Anderson is urging Port residents to heed the health warnings and follow the messaging relating to good hygiene, and social and physical distancing.
Tomaree Business Chamber president Leah Anderson is urging Port residents to heed the health warnings and follow the messaging relating to good hygiene, and social and physical distancing.

Tomaree Business Chamber president Leah Anderson is calling on the Port Stephens community to unite and work together in the fight to stop the coronavirus from further crippling the local economy.

Ms Anderson said that the health and safety of the community was paramount and has urged all residents to heed the health warnings and follow the messaging relating to good hygiene, and social and physical distancing.

"Let's also be proactive and not wait to be told to wear a face mask by a NSW health minister when it is all too late - let's get the community on the front foot," she said.

"Let's get free masks available at shopping centre entrances, shops, etc. and encourage the public to wear them. Maybe we can also have hand sanitising stations at entrances to shopping centres before shoppers walk through the doors."

Ms Anderson said that strong leadership was needed.

"Leaders working together - putting personal feelings aside and all working for the community. And what I mean by that is Port Stephens Council and councillors leading the way and working with our local MPs and senior health authorities."

Ms Anderson said she was very thankful and impressed with the number of Port Stephens businesses proactively making decisions to temporarily halt operations.

Melissa Stewart making coffee at Evviva Cafe and Bar, Nelson Bay. The shop has reverted back to takeaway only.

Melissa Stewart making coffee at Evviva Cafe and Bar, Nelson Bay. The shop has reverted back to takeaway only.

Some of the Bay's tourism providers to temporarily close their doors for the second time this year include Moonshadow-TQC Cruises, Imagine Cruises (from Sunday to Thursday), 4WD Tours R Us and Sahara Trails and Sahara Trails said it would be closed from Friday until further notice.

"We are a small, family run business and have a responsibility to play our part in combating this global pandemic, with our top priority being the health and safety of you [the public], our team, and their families," the business posted to its social media pages.

"This is not a decision we made lightly and apologise for any inconvenience caused. The good news is, our tourism industry here in Port Stephens is strong and resilient and we want to encourage you to support the community. Every time you support a small local business like ours you are helping a [local] family."

Moonshadow marketing manager Mel Turner said that "in consideration of our local community and in the best interests of our team, crew and passengers, the management has decided to temporarily suspend all operations. The decision has been made to allow time to assess the current COVID-19 situation in the Port Stephens area. Moonshadow-TQC is a registered Covid Safe business and we will make an informed decision to reopen as soon as it's considered appropriate to do so."

In addition to temporary closures, eateries such as Anna Bay Thai, Evviva Cafe and Bar and Sienna's have reverted to takeaway only orders.

"They are getting a message out immediately for the safety and protection of everyone that they were ceasing operations until further notice," Ms Anderson said.

"They did not wait to be told, they made an immediate call. These are just a few examples of how our local businesses are putting the health and safety of our community first, even though it is challenging their ability to keep their doors open for business and keep staff employed during such trying times."

Additionally, Karuah RSL Club is admitting members only but excluding patrons from the Tomaree Peninsula. Members from Bobs Farms, Anna Bay, Boat Harbour, Salamander Bay, Soldiers Point, Corlette, Nelson Bay, Shoal Bay and Fingal Bay are not permitted into the club until the COVID-19 situation on the peninsula "settles down".

"We are trying to keep our club open and to make sure our community is kept safe from COVID," the club stated. "We hate refusing entry but it is only for the short term and is being done to protect the town and our staff."

Ms Anderson also praised the actions of aged care centres Harbourside Haven and Regis Corlette for taking immediate precautions and going into a 14-day lock down for the safety of elderly aged care residents.

"Anyone showing flu-like symptoms is being urged to get tested in the hope we can halt any community transition of COVID-19."

Meanwhile, the popularity of face masks in Port Stephens has prompted local businesses including Port Stephens Packaging to stock Therapeutic Goods Administration approved masks for the public.

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