Third phase embraced

Holly Thompson and Chloe FraserSound Telegraph

Things have started to look up for local businesses, with phase three restrictions now allowing many to operate close to normal for the first time in about 10 weeks.

Businesses within the tourism industry have been some of the hardest hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with no tourists around to help support them.

Rockingham Wild Encounters general manager Chad D’Souza said his business had been forced to close early and faced an unprecedented return of sales from visitors and agents globally.

Now restrictions have been eased to allow groups of 100 to 300, Mr D’Souza said Rockingham Wild Encounters was planning to open soon, but could still struggle to get back on its feet.

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“The restriction of 1.5m between passengers still will not allow us a maximum capacity at this stage to drive the business forward,” he said. “We are working with the local council, DBCA and others to help us through this period and oversee some larger expenses we have. “I hope this can help build our business to the quality brand we have had for 30 years now. It is an iconic business which supports the region.”

Even though it could be a struggle, Mr D’Souza said he hoped people would be keen to explore “their own backyard”.

He also said the company was working alongside DBCA to build a discovery centre, which would allow it to work all year round.

“The council and DBCA also have had some ideas for this region and we are very happy to work with them to make this come true for the locals and business in Rockingham,” he said. “Now is the time, as when the world returns we can be ready to showcase everything around here. We would love to say thank you to our locals who keep supporting us.”

Meanwhile restrictions on bars, restaurants, beauty therapy and personal care services among others have also been lifted.

The eased restrictions could not come soon enough for Creme Skin and Beauty Lounge owner Tash Webster. She said it had been a “long couple of months” for the beauty industry, but she was ecstatic to be able to reopen.

“It’s been tough,” she said. “But I’m excited, I wasn’t expecting to reopen so soon.” She said despite having to “pivot a little” during COVID-19 to adapt to the situation, her diary was again fully booked. “I sold DIY facial kits and skin care products just to make ends meet,” she said.

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