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Letting Covid rip leaves Orange shops closing early or cutting trading days as staff shortages bite


Georgia Porch (left) and sister Lilly at Village Bakehouse. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes


At the Village Bakehouse on Peisley Street, sisters Lilly and Georgia Porch are two of the handful of staff left standing.


Covid has smashed the business. And it is not the only one in Orange.

Talk to business owners and staff, or walk around the CBD, and the impact of the government's decision to let Covid rip is clear. Businesses can't attract staff. They can't fill the rosters. People are available, and suddenly they are not.





They've got the virus. Or their sibling has the virus. Or their parents have the virus. Or their child has the virus.



How do you fill a staffing roster when you have no idea who will and won't be available from one day to the next?

Early closing at Village Bakehouse. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

A sign on the front door of Village Bakehouse advises customers that the café will be closing early, at 3pm, "until further notice".



With staff off with Covid or looking after children who have the virus, the kitchen has had to cut back on items the bakery café can sell.



The display cabinets, usually bulging with sweet and savoury treats, are looking a little bare.


Lilly Porch, who is a full-time PE student at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, is expecting to work about 50 hours this week, as the few available staff step up in order to keep the business running.



The only reason the four staff currently doing day shift are able to work? They've all had Covid. Lilly is hopeful "we might miss out [this time] ... but it's doing the rounds".




In the three years she has worked at the shop, she has never seen the staffing situation so dire.


Signs at Indian restaurant Maithil Rasoi. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

The son of one key staff member has Covid, and some of the parents of the junior staff who work afternoons also have the virus.


"It's exhausting," she said. "Because I'm a full-time uni student, it's a lot of pressure."


She typically works a 5am - 1pm shift, however she is currently working 5am - 4pm.


The business has been forced to contact schools in an attempt to try and attract students who have finished year 12.


At the top end of Summer Street, Indian restaurant Maithil Rasoi has two signs stuck to the front of the shop.


"Sorry for delivering delay or no service, we are short staff[ed]," one reads. "Sorry once again."



The second sign reads simply: "We're hiring."

At The Mills cafe and restaurant on Byng Street near the railway line, staff shortages due to Covid have forced the business to close most Mondays since the beginning of the year.


No Monday for Mills. Facebook.

Meanwhile, McDonald's in Orange is advertising for staff to work full time, part time and as casuals. All ages welcome.


It says it has hundreds of hours of shifts available.



On Tuesday Groundstone café next to the information centre on Byng Street posted a message on social media thanking those people who had checked in on staff.



"We are only one of so many businesses that are struggling with staffing, isolations and workloads right now," it said.


Golden arches looking for staffers. Facebook.

"Today was a mental health day for our team.


"Coming off the back of a few big weeks and quite a few more ahead of us, being a 7 Day a Week business, with a limited crew, we needed to make sure our team are happy and healthy heading forward to meet all our obligations to our teammates, customers and colleagues.


"We are all good, BUT, be sure to EXTRA thank your barista or beautician or sparky or anyone tomorrow or this week. Why not drop off a little gift to someone in isolation or send them a ‘how’s it going’ line.


"Any act of kindness or appreciation right now could be the difference in someone having a s#*t week and making someone’s week. BIG Love. Look after yourselves and your mates."

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