South Melbourne Market welcomes back visitors after COVID scare

South Melbourne Market welcomes back visitors after COVID scare

By Brendan Rees

South Melbourne Market has welcomed back all its non-food traders and visitors after the state was freed from last month’s lockdown.

It comes as the popular market was caught up in a COVID-19 scare after a positive case attended a few stores on July 11, prompting a tier 2 exposure site alert.

The whole market underwent a deep clean on two non-trading days before restaurants and cafes could resume selling takeaway during the lockdown.

Three stalls including Spin, TheSuperCool, and Create TbT Toys and Games, were initially listed as tier 1 exposure sites before being all downgraded to tier 2 within two days.

Fortunately, the market was unaffected because all three retail stalls had closed as a result of the lockdown.

For Matt Prezens, owner of bike, scooter, and skate stall Spin, being able to return was a moment of bliss, declaring “It’s great to be back!”

“Every stallholder at the market has been tested and they’re all clear and the market has had a good clean-up so it’s safe to come shopping,” he said.

Mr Prezens said without an online presence his business had taken a hit as he was reliant on face-to-face customer service.

“Without that customer interaction, it’s pretty much impossible for us to do anything.”

He said he and his partner had not qualified for any government support and were “absolutely relying on the charity of our friends and family at the moment”.

“It’s been a nightmare for us to be honest.”

Also left reeling by the lockdown but excited to return was David Nunez, owner of home goods and gifts stall The SuperCool, who said he was “devastated” to learn his stall had been identified as an exposure site.

“Fortunately, we were downgraded halfway through our lockdown so we were released [from 14-day quarantine] earlier,” he said after returning a negative COVID-19 test.

Though online orders kept his team busy, Mr Nunez conceded “It’s tough, you’ve got to pivot … you can’t do the standard offering so we did free shipping and things like that,” but added he was grateful for the support of loyal customers and the market’s management.

Meanwhile, the Emerald Hotel in South Melbourne celebrated pouring its first drinks after using the lockdown to spruce up its building.

It comes as the family-run tavern on Clarendon St was listed as tier 2 COVID-19 exposure site on July 15 between 4.14pm and 4.50pm, just hours before the lockdown began.

Owner Andrew Lewis said it was believed someone had “walked in and walked out” after placing a bet.

“It’s a bit of a godsend that it happened at a time when there was a lull in the day where there weren’t so many staff on,” he said.

Luckily, Mr Lewis added they had also closed for takeaway during the lockdown to clean and repaint the tavern as part of a refresh.

“At the moment we’re just going through the right procedures and making sure we tick all the boxes.” •

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