Take a measured approach to crisis

Shannon VerhagenSouth Western Times
Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mark Seaward and president Rob Skipsey are encouraging locals to support local businesses at this tough time.
Camera IconBunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mark Seaward and president Rob Skipsey are encouraging locals to support local businesses at this tough time. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Shannon Verhagen

Local businesses have been dealt a series of blows this week with the news that events big and small have been cancelled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Mark Seaward said now more than ever, was the time to support them.

It comes as the Federal Government has banned all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people and indoor gatherings of 100 people to reduce the risk of community-based transition.

Groovin’ the Moo, the Margaret River Pro, Busselton Ironman and the Donnybrook Apple Festival have all been cancelled, as well as local sporting events, school balls and community fairs.

Groovin’ the Moo — which brings more than 25,000 revellers to Bunbury each autumn — was one of the biggest events in a long list of cancellations in the region.

Mr Seaward said they were working on strategies to help a number of businesses, particularly in the events industry, that had been hit hard by the cancellations.

“We have some grave concerns of how they’ll survive through this,” Mr Seaward said.

“We absolutely understand why it needs doing. We’re not criticising anybody’s response to the virus … we’re just trying to figure out a way to minimise the fallout on the economy, because it will be significant.”

He urged people not to order anything online that they could buy from a local store.

BGCCI president Rob Skipsey said the cancellation of so many events had the potential to “sink” local small businesses and that was where they would put their immediate focus, as well as vulnerable members of the community.

He emphasised the importance of having a “measured and proportional response” to the virus and taking out the “hysteria and panic.”

Mr Seaward said the virus had caused a lack of consumer confidence and he encouraged people to still go out for breakfast or buy from local businesses.

“There seems to be no problem going to Coles or Woolies or IGA at the moment,” he said.

“Everybody’s there lining up doing their business as if there’s no risk, and yet when they think about going out to … a restaurant or somewhere else they think it’s too risky.”

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