Rockingham businesses count the cost of latest lockdown

Aaron Kirby, Indigo Lemay-Conway & Jake DietschSound Telegraph
Penguin Island has been shut
Camera IconPenguin Island has been shut Credit: Picture: Ian Beattie

Rockingham and Kwinana businesses have proved their mettle once again — as WA emerges from lockdown — but the toll from restrictions continues to mount and for some it may be too much to bear.

For Clint Wilcox, Owner of Steel Tree @ Sunset, last week’s lockdown could be the last straw.

“At the end of the day I’m in my 40s and I’m going to have to start again or just stop,” Mr Wilcox said.

His three businesses, which employ 40 people in total, went from earning around $2000 per hour to $20.

“I have three restaurants and I don’t think two of them are going to survive,” he said.

Mr Wilcox also said the biggest issue was not always the lockdown itself, but what comes next.

“We’re already struggling from the previous lockdown and it’s not just because of the four days...it’s the aftermath,” he said.

“No one comes out (just to eat because of the masks) and with the 20-person limit you get further behind.

“It just sucks because there is so much at stake and it’s all out of my control.”

Steel Tree @ Sunset owner Clint Wilcox.
Camera IconSteel Tree @ Sunset owner Clint Wilcox. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Coastal Times/Jake Dietsch

Similarly Chad D’Souza, co-founder of Perth Wildlife Encounters, has closed tours to Penguin Island until September.

“We’ve decided to close the business for July and August now, because we just can’t go through this uncertainty again,” Mr D’Souza said.

“It just costs the business too much, we are just losing too much money.”

On the flip side, Ali Richards from Jaffelato invested in changing her business model last year and is seeing an uptick in sales during lockdowns.

“We reorganised our shop and put in a coffee window so that when lockdowns happen we have a very smooth transition,” she said.

“We just close the front door and just keep operating as normal as our whole menu can be done takeaway.

“We didn’t have to have any messages or team meetings; the staff who opened up on Tuesday morning knew exactly what needed to be done.”

Jaffelato owner Ali Richards says her business saw an uptick in sales during lockdown.
Camera IconJaffelato owner Ali Richards says her business saw an uptick in sales during lockdown. Credit: Holly Thompson/ Sound Telegraph/Holly Thompson/ Sound Telegraph

Ms Richards said they were still serving around 100 customers per day.

WA Small Business Minister Reece Whitby said lockdowns were a tough decision for the Government.

“At the end of the day it is made to protect the health of West Australians,” Mr Whitby said.

“We believe that striking early and striking strongly is the best way to keep businesses open for longer in the future.”

Mr Whitby said locals were really good at supporting small businesses and urged everyone to go out and do their part.

“Use their service. Get a local tradie to do a repair on your home, get a local gardening company to come do up your yard, engage local businesses if you’ve got the money to do it,” he said.

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