Hundreds of thousands of Victorians are now out of jobs as business close their doors under the tough Stage 4 restrictions.
An estimated quarter of a million Victorians are affected by the new regulations, joining the other 250,000 people who have been stood down since the pandemic began.
Another 500,000 Victorians are working from home.
“As heartbreaking as it is to close down places of employment … that is what we have to do in order to stop the spread of this wildly infectious virus, this deadly virus,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
Some business don’t know if they’ll reopen. Workers have been laid off – some for six weeks. Some indefinitely.
Maddie Wenezel is one of them.
The 21-year-old works as a manager and waitress for a vineyard restaurant in Gippsland.
“We’re worried about opening up again. It’s difficult because I haven’t had any work for the past week. I’ve just been doing the odd delivery and doing office work when I can,” she told The New Daily.
She said confusion over when JobKeeper would end and the uncertainty around the future were adding to the ‘‘perpetual worry’’ about COVID-19.
“I don’t know what type of job I’ll have to go back to, what my hours will be like if we’ll be open. Since we’re a small business there’s a lot of uncertainty.”
Like many Victorians, she’s spending her time trying to stay motivated.
She’s re-enrolled in university, exercising regularly and just “trying to do something”.
“The atmosphere is chaotic. Regardless of what you’re trying to do, you can’t escape that atmosphere. It’s crazy we’re living through this period in time.”
Many small businesses were taken by surprise by the announcement and confused over who needed to shut down.
Robyn Rogalski and her husband run businesses in Albury-Wodonga and in Melbourne.
“We’ve got two business. One in Melbourne, A Grade Upholstery. We’ve had that since 2009,” she said.
“We have another business in Wodonga, which is dealing with the border closure. So it’s a double whammy for us.”
They’re organising JobKeeper for their staff members but are worried about surviving through the next six weeks.
“We are concerned we won’t make it, but we know we have a good reputation in Melbourne and we do good quality work. We’re hoping that helps us see the other side.
“But you don’t know what’s going to happen. You’ve just got to wait and see and do the right thing.”
ANZ predicts the Stage 4 restrictions will wipe 90,000 jobs permanently from the economy by September.
Olivia Mulholland runs one of the beauty therapy businesses that has had to shut its doors.
She’s a single mum and will be juggling homeschooling two kids.
“I think the second time, it’s like the rug was well and truly pulled out under me,” she said.
After restrictions eased the first time, Ms Mulholland was busier than ever.
“It gave me my mojo back, it was a great feeling, and then when the news came we were going into Stage 3 it well and truly took the wind out of me a little bit.”
She knows many small businesses won’t survive the second lockdown but is keeping positive.
“It’s so hard for everyone. Some of us won’t weather the storm, but I plan to. I plan to rise above it.
“I remain in contact with my clients. I reschedule their appointments until after the restrictions lift. I’ll be back in business.”
The best thing Victorians could do right now was support local businesses they love, she said.
“Share one of their posts on social media, you don’t need to ask permission. Write a google review. Those are little ways you can help them.
“If you can, purchase something from their online store. Those things help.”
Mali-Rose Van Den Driest, 22, doesn’t know when she’ll be going back to her job in a Fitzroy cafe.
“If there’s no job there’s no café,” she said.
She’s studying while on Youth Allowance and is taking this time to reskill into other work.
“I honestly think I’ll try and take this opportunity and look at other options,” she said.
“It’s been jumping from job to job. I think I’ll try this time to give myself the opportunity to figure out what I want to do and broaden my horizons a bit.
“In saying that, who knows? There’s a lot of people looking for work. It’s messy and grey and confusing.”