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Covid-infected couple cause economic hit on coast


The owners of a Caloundra cafe visited by the Melbourne couple at the centre of the latest coronavirus scare say they’ve taken a huge financial hit after being listed as an exposure site.

The Coffee Cat on Kings Beach is among 13 sites visited by the couple who breached Victoria’s lockdown to enter Queensland, on June 5.

Husband and wife owners of the store, Haley and Pierre Mortenson (pictured), say trade was down 90 per cent yesterday with just a handful of customers showing up.

Usually, it would be all systems go on the coffee machine.

Mrs Mortenson says it takes a major toll on small business owners when they have potentially been exposed to a Covid-positive person.

It can take weeks to recover even if it’s just one or two bad days of trade, she says.

She points out that having to close, organise deep cleans, send staff home, notifying customers of the situation all create logistical challenges when trying to run a business.  

“We still have overheads – we still have rent, electricity, full-time wages and insurances, and none of that stops.

“I think everyone is in that panic fear mode and they are all waiting to see what happens over the next few days.

“I don’t think it was just us – I think everyone is just staying home.”

Four Coffee Cat staff members are off work as they wait for coronavirus test results and can’t return to work until June 21.

Mayor hits out

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson says it is irresponsible of the Melbourne couple to leave and head north during a lockdown.

Mr Jamieson points out their actions had the potential to shutdown upcoming events that are important to the region’s economy.

"The fact that it could undermine a whole lot of events. It would have been a tragedy to see our show cancelled again," he says.

"There's a whole range of sporting events coming up here over the next several weeks that could have been jeopardised and there still may be the risk of that if there are other infections."

Supporting local businesses

Donna Niazob from the Sunshine Coast Chamber Alliance says it is vital the community continues to support local businesses to try to minimise economic damage.

“It is absolutely crucial that the community don’t give into the fear of the unknown, and they go out and support these businesses,” Ms Niazob says.

“A lot of the businesses’ costs stay the same but obviously they’re not generating the same level of income.”