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Business slows down after two cases confirmed

Cafe, Don Luciano said the days after the announcement of positive covid cases had been unusually quiet. PHOTOS/MARY ARGUE

Masterton businesses were feeling the pinch last week as confirmed covid cases, announced locations of interest, and wild weather kept people at bay. Times-Age reporters
JOHN LAZO-RON and MARY ARGUE spoke to businesses about the sluggish setbacks.

Business was slower than usual for many Masterton businesses last week after two covid-19 cases were confirmed for the town.

Masterton’s main CBD, Queen St, looked emptier than usual on all three days, with fewer cars and people out and about.

Saturday two weeks ago, the Ministry of Health [MOH] confirmed four Wairarapa locations of interest, with a further two added on Tuesday.

The announcement of locations of interest in the region prompted a surge in covid testing.

Wairarapa DHB confirmed that 1601 people had been tested by Wednesday and were all directed to isolate at home.

Testing numbers on Sunday stood at 476; 511 on Monday; 378 on Tuesday; and 236 on Wednesday.

The high number of people considered to be self-isolating, the confirmed covid cases, and strong gusts are thought to have had a significant impact on the slowing moving business days, with cafe’s, in particular, a lot quieter.

Co-owner of Trocadero Jenny Afentakis thought the combination of wind and people being cautious could explain the quieter streets.

Co-owner of Trocadero cafe Jenny Afentakis said business had slowed since the weekend.

She conceded the blustery weather, which was clocked at 105kmh in Masterton on Monday, could be a factor but thought the scarcity of people on Queen St had to be somewhat covid-related.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” she said.

She said it was possible the population’s more vulnerable people were being cautious and choosing to stay home while covid was in the community.

“We’ve got an older population here.”

Usually busy beginnings of the week ended up being the opposite for Don Luciano’s cafe.

One of the cafe’s chefs, Ashleigh Bowman, said it had been pretty quiet at the popular café since Sunday, which she said came down to people being spooked by the entry of delta into the community.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” she said.

“We were quite busy on Saturday, and then all of a sudden on Sunday, it died down, and that’s one of our busiest days. We’ve had our regulars in, but again on Monday and Wednesday, which are usually our busy days too, it was pretty quiet.

“I think people are a bit scared to go out at the moment so they’re staying in.”

Stirling Sports on Queen St went through a deep cleaning on Wednesday morning after being announced as one of the new places of interest on Tuesday afternoon.

Owner of the sports store, Harman Boparai, said the announcement would have no doubt kept people away which accounted for an untypically slow day.

“[Tuesday] was slow in general for us, obviously being a location of interest, and in general with fewer people around, you can see that everybody’s getting a little bit scared.”

Although not required to, Boparai said he and all staff got tested, which he said all returned negative.

The two positive cases hit Masterton just before the Government announcing they were bringing in the ‘Traffic Light System’.

On Wednesday, the Government announced the covid-19 Protection Framework would come into effect for the whole of New Zealand soon after November 29, when the Cabinet would meet to make a final decision.

Masterton businesses spoken to by the Times-Age said they were happy to abide by government policy but hoped they would provide clarity around the traffic light system in the coming days.

Owner of Strada Cafe on Queen St, Cherish Patel said the business’ responsibilities under the traffic light system were still unclear.

“It is a little bit confusing,” he said.

Patel confirmed the cafe had been quieter since the region’s covid cases had been announced but was hopeful it would change soon.

“As time goes by, I think people will slowly but surely come back and it will go back to normal. Well that’s my expectation.”

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