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Behind closed doors in Echuca during coronavirus

By Cassandra Power

AS THE entire nation retreats behind closed doors, Echuca residents are realising the full-effect of the coronavirus on their everyday lives.

From families self-isolating for safety to businesses adapting for survival, the Riv asked Echucans to let us peer behind their curtains to find the most surprising, most positive and most worrying things about this moment in history.

Danielle Burt is a 31-year-old stay-at-home mum.

Danielle Burt

Her family has been self-isolating since Saturday and are "dealing with it fine".

She said the best thing about this experience was the chance to unplug and spend some time with her children knowing they were safe at home.

“I must admit I'm not hating the slowed down pace of life right now,” she said.

“The hardest thing for me is getting my five-year-old to understand why we can't go to Gravity Shack for a play or why her Nanna can’t take her to the movies.

“The most surprising thing is how many people are not taking it seriously. I took the kids for a drive yesterday so they wouldn't go stir-crazy and the amount of people out, going by their business as usual was really disappointing.”

Businesses in Echuca have a new reality to deal with and some are facing a tough-time ahead.

Bruburger employee Oscar Reid is grateful the shop has been able to stay open - as a takeaway only service.

The 20-year-old said Bruburger was adapting to the current restrictions by offering a new delivery service through an online ordering system, but unfortunately the company has had to close Gypsy Bar altogether.

Echuca Neighbourhood House volunteer Carol Collings runs the Relax and De-stress group and said she had seen people who were really frightened, especially the “vulnerable”.

Carol Collings

The 59-year-old has also seen the other extreme where people think the crisis is a joke.

Carol is offering free support through her Facebook page @SoulFullNest Creative, where she shares meditation tips, meditations and creative ideas.

“I’m offering anything that will help people work through their fears and worries and reduce stress,” she said.

“Personally I had my life tipped upside down a few months ago when my husband got sick.

“I faced those fears of uncertainty and am grateful, as it has prepared me for this massive world-wide upheaval.

“I still have my concerns but mainly for others, those who are not getting their basic needs met, this is what it is all about, returning to a simpler life of focusing on the basics.

“We need to stay healthy by eating the right foods and keeping active.

“When we are grateful for these things it takes our minds off what we haven't got and reduces our fears immensely.

“Adapting to a new normal is important and it can be fun.

“It all depends on your ability to see the good that can come from it all and see this as a chance to really slow down and definitely smell those roses.”

Amy and Brendan Wright, both 32, have a two-year-old son Griffin and own Johnny & Lyle cafe.

Griffin Wright

They said they had taken extreme measures to ensure the safety of their staff and customers by not allowing any patrons to enter their building.

“We have a service window in our courtyard where we serve one customer at a time and there is ample undercover standing room in the garden to keep safe distances from others while they wait,” Amy said.

“We have reduced our menu, but kept many of the most popular dishes, we are offering breakfast and lunch to go, as well as coffees all day from 6am-2pm and customers can phone ahead to ensure minimal waiting time.

“Although it was heartbreaking to ‘stand down’ a dozen of our casual workforce, we are doing our best to tread water in order to keep our full-time staff employed as long as possible and to be able to come out of this on the other side.

“It sounds as though there will be some pretty good assistance from the government although we haven’t seen anything yet and it is unlikely we will obtain any rent relief for our building.

“To stay in business we need our loyal followers to keep supporting and thinking of us, while there is enough demand for our product we will continue to have a crack.”

For other people, it’s harder to stay positive, given the serious consequences of the coronavirus on their health.

A 44-year-old Echuca resident who wishes not to be named suffers from epilepsy and has lost two casual jobs in the tourism industry.

Along with the disruption to her employment, treatment for her medical issues has also taken a blow.

She said hospital restrictions in Bendigo meant her daughter could no longer come with her when she receives treatment.

“I just got a call from the women's clinic,” she said.

“I have to have a small procedure done, a biopsy and they said I can't bring my daughter with me. She's my carer. I have epilepsy. I can’t understand.”