Business owners create a plan to stay open during nationwide lockdown

Mamma Lou's Cafe owner Mary-Louise McKenzie and employee Damien Strawbridge welcomed patrons with a smile on their first day of takeaway-only operation.
Mamma Lou's Cafe owner Mary-Louise McKenzie and employee Damien Strawbridge welcomed patrons with a smile on their first day of takeaway-only operation.

Local businesses remain open behind closed doors in the wake of the federal government's forced shutdown of hospitality and tourism operators across the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced stage one of lockdown restrictions this week in response to the rapidly increasing number of Covid-19 cases.

Yet many resilient business owners in Port Augusta enacted smart business plans by providing safe takeaway and home delivery options.

Mamma Lou's cafe owner Mary-Louise McKenzie said their doors remain open, but the seats are empty.

"We are just trying to roll with it really. With each change we are working out what we can provide within those limits," she said.

"At the moment everything is takeaway, if that changes we will see how we go and that's just the way we are doing it."

While the cafe has managed to implement a new business model, like many other operators around town it hasn't come without collateral damage.

"The whole point of a cafe is about coming together and being in the open and yes takeaway is nice but its not the same," Ms McKenzie said.

"We've had to reduce hours and staff, which is hard. As soon as we start to open again when this has passed, everyone has certainly got a job back here."

The Federal Parliament rushed through $84 billion in financial support for workers, students and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the final sitting before a five-month break.

Business Port Augusta committee member Sam Johnson said more needs to be done.

"One thing we are definitely seeing now in the retail and hospitality sector is some immediate support that is going to be required, because unfortunately a lot of that workforce is casual and a lot of that workforce has already been reduced hours significantly or staff have lots their jobs," he said.

"The biggest thing to remember here is that people are still open to business and they are going to continue to be open for business.

"Support can be really simple like remembering to buy that coffee on your way to work. Cafes are still open for takeaways and even the pubs, their front bars might be closed but their kitchens and those with bottle-o services are still open. Every little thing is a significant contribution at this time."