After enduring a nightmare scenario that saw staff infected with coronavirus and the doors close, one Ballarat food outlet is back in business.
The Ballarat Bakery on Latrobe Street was closed two weeks ago after COVID-19 cases were linked to it, but the doors have been opened again after a deep clean and the tick of approval from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
Bakery owner Rod Pope said it was a horrific experience for his staff, and the community.
"We're not 100 per cent sure where the infection came from, we think it could have been a customer coming through town who decided to stop for lunch," he explained.
"We had a couple of staff who had an itchy throat, we said 'stay home, get tested, don't come back until you get a result'.
"A few days later, we heard back, at which point we had to shut the doors.
"It's not something you want to do, but you want to make sure if it does spread to other staff, you're not spreading it to customers - you try to make sure everyone's safe."
Contact tracing teams determined that it was only front-of-house staff at risk, not baking staff, as their shifts rarely cross over.
The process to reopen was eye-opening - as well as DHHS, he said the business also required approval from the local health department and WorkSafe, and workers who were isolating needed to be tested multiple times to get the all-clear.
That's important, he said - the bakery is now the cleanest place in Ballarat, he said.
"Everything was cleaned, everything that could carry the virus has been thrown out and probably a few extra things, then when all that was done, we had the bakers come in, they threw out any food remnants that were not going to last the two weeks we needed to be closed - everything with a used-by date prior to today," he said.
OTHER BALLARAT CORONAVIRUS NEWS
Mr Pope said his business did everything right - his staff began using masks before they were mandatory, maintained social distancing, and cleaned high-touch surfaces frequently.
The cost to his business will be enormous.
"This will probably cost over $100,000, with the loss of income, and expenses," he said.
"I've continued to pay staff and haven't taken leave off them.
"Rent still has to be paid, utilities, then there's the stuff we've thrown out, the cost of the deep clean - it's not cheap."
The bakery's manager, Glenyce Green, was one of the workers who caught COVID-19.
She said it was an awful experience, but had repeatedly tested negative.
"I knew I was sick, so I self-quarantined three days before I had a test," she said.
"We all know we did the right thing in that regard.
"We're not the first business, and we certainly won't be the last."
She said the contact tracing team was exceptionally useful for the entire community, and encouraged anyone who was contacted to help them out.
That information is crucial to keeping the community safe.
"The more forthright you are coming forward, the better it is," she said.
Mr Pope said the community's support was welcomed during the closure, and he hoped regular customers would flock back quickly.
"We've stepped up our game to the next level, with more social distancing measures - we don't want this happening again," he said.
"All the positive things we've seen have been very welcome, and we look forward to getting back and serving some good, fresh food to our customers."
Remember to always maintain good hand hygiene, wear a mask when in public, and keep a 1.5 metre distance from others at all times.
Right now there are only four reasons to leave your home in Ballarat during stage three restrictions: care and caregiving, local exercise, shopping for necessary items, and for work or study if you are unable to do so from home.
Victoria Police are enforcing restrictions, and penalties apply.
Anyone with the slightest symptoms is urged to get a test immediately, and must self-isolate until results come back - book online at bchc.org.au or phone 4311 1571 to make an appointment.
For more information, visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website, or phone the hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice if you are displaying symptoms.
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