Local businesses adapting to Level 3

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EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Ray White Balclutha was able to hold open homes under Alert Level 3. Open homes are not permitted, however, viewings can be arranged by private appointment.

JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

The move to Alert Level 3 earlier this week has resulted in many small niche retail businesses in Clutha district gladly getting back into the swing of things.

For everyone it’s a new working experience, one dominated by the desire to keep customers and staff safe and healthy while continuing to trade and provide the same high levels of service they did before Covid-19 appeared.

Contactless selling has brought many changes to the way they operate.
Casafuego Eatery and Bar owner Andrew Hayward-Swain were going live with their online ordering system yesterday evening.

‘‘It has been a very stressful time waiting for the Government’s call to move out of Level 4 and to allow us to go ahead and restart, but we have been very busy over the lockdown. The first weeks were spent creating the online menus, the website and the delivery systems, and now it is all ready to go,’’ he said.

Mary Johnstone, of Johnstone Electrical, said it was a steep learning curve moving on to a digital platform in such a short time.

‘‘We have had our online presence on a back burner for a while now, as part of the combined buying power of the 100% group we felt it was quite important for our customers to know what’s on hand and what’s available.

‘‘The demand for electrical services while we were on Level 4 lockdown was surprising, with many washing machines, TVs, hot water elements and refrigeration repairs needed.

‘‘It took us a week to get our online presence up and running and throughout the lockdown we have kept all our staff employed. We are incredibly grateful for the Government’s wage subsidy.

‘‘We monitor how our staff work, keeping their distance, and are very happy about the success of it all,’’ Mrs Johnstone said.

Ewan Allan Honda Balclutha manager Gavin Sutton said his team had been quietly working away keeping essential services based around primary industries going.

‘‘We have been quite good during the lockdown. Now we are moving into Level 3 we will have more of our mechanics on duty.

‘‘We have been using Facebook to keep our customers up to date with what services we can do and even though the front door will still be locked under Level 3, customers can give us a call as we are still working inside but practising social distancing and safe work habits,’’ he said.

Ray White Balclutha owner Jason Dowden said that although the level had gone down it was still about keeping everyone safe.

‘‘We are still operating from home and under Level 3 we have a long list of things to do.
We can still sell, but open homes are banned. Privately arranged viewings can be held but they are limited to two viewings per day.

‘‘We have to think more about the sanitising of the home, no printed material, and we ask homeowners to leave all the doors open so no-one has to touch anything.

‘‘All our staff will still be wearing masks and gloves at viewings and there will be a lot more vetting of prospective buyers wanting to view a home,’’ he said.