Like many other businesses, Tumut’s Goodes Coaches is experiencing Covd-19 deja vu during the massive resurgence of the pandemic.
The return of strict Covid regulations has cost the company tens of thousands of dollars.
“School buses are still operating as normal, except with face masks,” Goodes proprietor Anthony Goode said.
Primary school students are exempt, but high school students and drivers must wear them (one driver has a medical exemption). It is with forward bookings and excursions that Goodes is really feeling the pinch.
“We had these forward bookings; four-day excursions; everything from trips to Wagga and Canberra,” he said.
“With this new lockdown and restrictions, it’s come as a public health order, and then through the Department of Education to the schools, and they’ve pretty much said all over night excursions or trips are not currently available to do, and basically you’ve got to stay in your local government area, so even for us to get across to Wagga or Gundagai now, isn’t allowed,” he said.
“We put a lot of work into these excursions; it takes us the best part of a week to organise, man hours, so now we are going through and rebooking or cancelling, when we’ve already done the work, now we’re redoing the work and getting nothing out of it, so we’ve wiped tens of thousands of dollars off our books for the next three months.”
Fortunately, Goodes is able to keep all their staff.
“We are keeping drivers driving where possible,” he said.
Goodes was taking one of the schools up for a concert in Sydney; that was a three day and night trip and that’s been cancelled, and another up to Milton Island near Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury, but because they would have to have gone through Sydney, this has also been cancelled.
“That’s two coach loads that got wiped off very quickly,” Mr Goode said.
What makes things harder for Goodes is that they are unable to get any government financial help.
“We’ve lost a lot of income, but not enough,” he said.
“If we were to stand alone our charter business to our school bus business we would qualify well and truly, but because we are combined into one business, it makes it very difficult to get anything, and we didn’t get anything through the last round of support (when the pandemic struck last year) either.”
Fortunately, some local businesses have escaped the impact of the Covid-lockdowns.
Tumut Freight Service is so far completely unscathed by the resurgence of the virus, and had even previously benefitted from it.
“We haven’t been downwardly affected by it at all,” spokesperson Tracey Lucas said.
When the pandemic first took hold in 2020, business actually boomed for the company.
“We were insanely busy,” Mrs Lucas said.
“There was so much online purchases. We moved lots of sheds, because people were at home and doing things themselves.”
Even the interstate Covid dramas had little impact.
“When Melbourne was shut off, we needed special passes to get through, but we have not been physically stopped,” she said.
“However, we do feel for other businesses that are affected.”
Douglass Hanly Moir pathology are even busier than normal thanks to the pandemic-induced demand for testing.
“We have ramped up what we were doing previously,” Southern Regional Manager Pene Jefferies said.
“We are assisting doctors, including those in respiratory clinics. We have a fantastic and dedicated team working out in the freezing cold and rain making sure everyone has access to testing.”