'Never been shut in 16 years': Heartbreak for businesses

BUSINESSES right across the Northern Rivers are reeling after news from the prime minister than non-essential services will be shut down from 12pm today.

Here are some of the heartbreaking reactions from their official social media pages.

We have arranged these in Local Government Area sections to help you find the changes that affect you.



Lismore Base Hospital

Northern Rivers Local Health District announced the following changes to hospital visits via their website.

Changes apply to visitors and carers.

"We are reducing visitors to two per patient. This will help us reduce the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing. Exemptions can be made in certain circumstances - speak with the nurses in charge."

Visitors MUST NOT ENTER the hospital if:

  • They have a fever or a cold and flu-like illness
  • They have returned from overseas
  • They have been in contact with anyone who has been confirmed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.


Mandarin Palace, Lismore

"We are sad to announce that: for the health and safety of our team members and customers, Mandarin Palace will be closed for both take away and dine in until further notice.

"Any confirmed bookings will be contacted personally by phone.

"We apologise for any inconvenience and hope to see you soon. Stay healthy and safe."


Local Land Services

"THE safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and we are committed to taking important steps in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

"From Tuesday, March 24 customer service centres of Local Land Services will be open by appointment only and all contact should be done online or via telephone.

"Whilst our offices are closed to the public for face to face contact, Local Land Services will continue to provide essential on-ground services, such as biosecurity and emergency management where safe and practical.

"The best way you can contact Local Land Services during this period is by sending an enquiry online via www.lls.nsw.gov.au or by calling 1300 795 299.

"We are still here and working to keep you safe in these challenging times."


The Stockpot Kitchen, Lismore 

"I think we all agree that there's some sh-t going down right now.

"Because of said sh-t, we will only be offering takeaway as of tomorrow.

"We can also drop your order to you in your car out front and we are working on home delivery and on line ordering.

"Our menu is a little different to help to keep a great product in the bag for you.

"Also, you might notice our hours have changed slightly too. Lunch 11:30-2:30pm and dinner 4:30-7:30 or so.

"We will continue to clean and wash and sanitise and practice social distancing and seriously just hope we all get through this and can all have a beer together once it's all done and dusted."


Lismore Workers Club

The club sent the following message to members via Facebook.

"To everyone in the Lismore Workers community.

"As per the announcement made by the Prime Minister last night, our venue, along with all venues for social gathering across the country, have been closed to help minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

"We will not be opening our three venues this morning.

"At this stage we've been advised that the closure will be reviewed after one-month but we will keep you all updated here over the coming weeks.

"Lismore Workers has been a part of our local community for 66 years and, barring flood and renovation, we've never been through a closure like this. But we will be doing everything we can to weather this crisis, and reopen as soon as it's safe to do so.

"This closure will be particularly hard felt by all our staff so please be supportive.

"We hope to see you all again soon."


Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre

"GSAC is closed effective immediately. All swimming lessons are cancelled -- we will provide an update soon in regards to Term 2 bookings.

"There is no gym access effective immediately, including 24/7 access.

"All programs run at GSAC will be suspended."


The Book Warehouse, Lismore

"We are, for now, still open. However, we have some very exciting news -- our website (www.thebwh.com) is up and running and you can now order online.

"Added to that we are offering free delivery to Lismore and surrounding Lismore suburbs. We're also happy to take payment over the phone by card (whilst we are still open to the public).

"Life has changed in ways we didn't imagine and things are uncertain, but one thing we don't want to change is the passion our community has for reading and their access to books. We're doing everything we can to help you keep reading and support local business."


The Bank Cafe, Lismore

"We're still here, Lismore! We'll be opening our doors from 7am Monday morning.

"The only change is that we can only offer takeaway -- we can deal with that.

"It's looking likely that we'll have to go into lockdown at some point in the coming weeks, but for now we're so happy to be here."


Dalley St Butchers, East Lismore

"(We) will continue as normal following the announcements last night.

"We do ask that our customers call us for home delivery if you aren't feeling well, and that we attempt to maintain the social distancing guidelines when you visit us at the shop.

"We have been here a long time, and we will be here for you when this is over."


Eltham Valley Pantry

"I think we are in shock... we will be offering home deliver and local pick up from today onwards.

"Like all small businesses, we need your support."



Lennox Head IGA

"All customers must sanitise their hands before entry. 

"Please stand on the 'X' on the floor when lining up for registers.

"Enter store through produce section NOT via the right hand side.

"To keep numbers in check, where possible, please leave children at home.

"We are here to keep you safe and our staff."


Wollongbar Hotel

"Tonight's announcement by the Prime Minister was a nasty shock," the pub's Facebook page explained.

"We had anticipated a shutdown of our industry for possibly four weeks to assist with flattening the curve in the infection rate, and we had begun making plans around this. We had absolutely not expected six months and are simply in shock at the prospect of how we possibly manage being closed for six months.

"At Wollongbar Tavern we directly employ 30 local people, as well as local contract cleaners, trades people, lawn mowers, growers, truckers & freight providers. We sponsor and support local sporting clubs, school events and of course local charities. This has all been shattered by tonight's announcement.

"Our priority right now is to continue to employ as many of our people as we can, for as long as we can. But when you're forced to close 75 per cent of your business for six months it is simply impossible to retain everyone. We are deeply sorry for this and will do what we can to support our valued staff.

"The bottle shop will continue to trade as per normal. Over the course of the next couple of days we will assess the viability & practicality of supplying takeaway meals only."


Ballina RSL Club

The club closed this morning at 8am.

"We will keep in touch with our members and guests via our social media networks and e-newsletter.

"We look forward to opening when possible."


Cherry Street Sports Club, Ballina

"We regret to inform you that due to the government's announcements... we have taken the opportunity to close as of now and use this time to meet with our staff and make a plan so that when we are allowed to open back up, our team are ready to be back on deck and serve you again.

"Our staff live and breathe this industry and we have a difficult road ahead, as does the entire community and our hearts truly go out to all affected."


E.S.P Espresso Bar, Alstonville

"Effective immediately we are takeaway only and I will be working on my own until the situation is clearer.

"Thanks to my staff who have made hard decisions easier by being the wonderful people they are."



Brunswick Heads Pharmacy

The pharmacy has implemented a system where the staff run in two separate teams.

Those teams will not interact with each other to help to safeguard the pharmacy, so if one team if required to go into isolation, the other can still function.



Weekday opening hours remain 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Extended Saturday opening hours are 8.30am to 2.30pm.


O Sushi, Byron Bay

This beloved sushi spot has announced its first unexpected closure in 16 years.

In a social media post, OSushi said Wednesday, March 18 was " a sad day".

"Apart from Christmas Day we have never been shut in our 16 years," the business said in the post.

"We take the health and safety of out community and employees very seriously and that is why we have made the heartbreaking decision to close.

"We will consider the option of home deliveries if government and health instructions will allow it.

"We are following all the advice of the government and health and safety board regulations as we get it.

"We understand this is an unprecedented event and as circumstances change we will adapt with our community."

The business extended thanks to their "amazing employees".

"You are our family and your kindness at this time speaks for itself," they said.

"And to our customers and community, thank you for your continued support.

"Please stay safe and stay kind."


The Bowlo, Bangalow

The Bangalow Bowling & Sports Club Limited will be closed from today until further notice.

The Board, Management and One Green Acre would like to thank you for your support in recent weeks as we have been managing our way through the operational aspects of the COVID-19 crisis.

We are a strong community with a track record of supporting each other during difficult times.

We will be back!

The Club now enters caretaker mode for the during of the forced closure.

We will use this time wisely to address our overall operations and get to work straight away on our reopening plans.

Please stay safe and follow government health directives at all times.


Courthouse Restaurant, Mullumbimby

As with other hospitality venues, this restaurant has also closed its doors to customers today.

"We are however going to continue to offer takeaway through our drive-through bottle shop," the business said in a social media post.

"We will continue to offer this service as long as it's viable to do so."

Their menu is available here, phone through orders on 02 6684 1550 and they'll meet you in the drive through.

Chincogan Store
This store, on Burringbar St in Mullumbimby, has announced it is open and trading as usual.


Beach Hotel, Byron Bay

The hotel has been open for coffee this morning but will be closed.

The accommodation is remaining operational and the bottle shop will be open as well.


Distillery goes to hand sanitiser

Don't worry about the shortage in the big shops; Lord Byron Distillery is selling hand sanitise.

In a post on social media, the distillery said things were "definitely not business as usual" but the distillery is remaining open for now, with "enhanced cleaning and operating procedures".

"As a local community, we can't fight Covid-19 if we don't have access to hand sanitiser," the post read.

"So to do our part, Lord Byron Distillery has stepped in to help.

"We are temporarily making hand sanitiser.

"We are doing this at cost and guarantee we do not make any profit from its production."

The hand sanitiser is naturally made and available at their cellar door,  Unit 7, 4 Banksia Drive in the Arts and Industrial Park, open Tuesday to Saturday 12-5pm.


Woody's Surf Shack, Byron Bay

This popular Byron club made the call to close their doors before the Prime Minister announced "non-essential" businesses would be closing down

"It was not a decision we made lightly," they said in a social media post.

"However, we feel that the health of our staff, our customers, our families, and our broader community is the highest priority.

"By remaining open we are putting you at risk - and we are sending a signal to the public that social distancing and self-isolation are not necessary or should not be taken seriously.

"We feel strongly that extreme social distancing and ideally self-isolation is the right action for all of us to take at this time and we want to stand behind our beliefs, rather than wait for a directive that may come too late. Being proactive now is the right and responsible thing to do and it is our hope that acting now will help contribute to ending this crisis more quickly.

"We also hope that our decision to cease operations now will also set a precedent for other businesses in our community (and beyond) to take action now."


The Sticky Wicket Bar

This Byron Bay bar posted to social media on Thursday, days before the official shutdown order for non-essential services.

"At this time, we have made the decision to close our doors and cease operations until this public health crisis is resolved," the post read.

"It was not a decision we made lightly.

"However, we feel that the health of our staff, our customers, our families, and our broader community is the highest priority.

"By remaining open we are putting you at risk - and we are sending a signal to the public that social distancing and self-isolation are not necessary or should not be taken seriously.

"We feel strongly that extreme social distancing and ideally self-isolation is the right action for all of us to take at this time and we want to stand behind our beliefs, rather than wait for a directive that may come too late.

"Being proactive now is the right and responsible thing to do and it is our hope that acting now will help contribute to ending this crisis more quickly.

"We also hope that our decision to cease operations now will also set a precedent for other businesses in our community (and beyond) to take action now.


Ocean Shores Tavern

Ocean Shores Tavern posted to Facebook today to confirm they would be closed, although the bottle shop will be operating.

"Team Tav wishes to send out big love to all our customers and the community as we all bunker down to protect our health," they said.

"We are always in awe by the strength and support of this community in the face of adversity, flooding, bushfires, and rallying to fundraise for those in need.

The tavern will only have the bottle shop from today and will "be putting systems in place for home delivery".

"We will continue to do our best to be here for you with high vibes, just not high fives," they said.

The tavern had yesterday announced the suspension of all events yesterday and urged people to "rest up at home" and "keep washing our mitts".

St Elmo Dining Room and Bar

"This is a temporary move (to close down), but one that we feel is absolutely necessary given the current situation we are in," they said in a post online.

"Not only is it not financially viable for us to remain operating at the moment, but morally, we don't want to play a part in the spreading of disease either. We are in a real catch 22 situation here.

"It's either income or health and safety that we compromise, and we could not carry the burden of having someone contaminated within our walls - staff or customers.

"Having done the math, takeaway and delivery is just not a viable option for our business, and there are many other amazing local businesses you can support who provide this option, and you should continue to support them as much as you can.

"We will continue to reassess the situation week to week, and as soon as it is safe for us to do so, we will re-open our doors."


Mullumbimby Drill Hall

"For the safety of everyone involved with the theatre, last week the Theatre Company made the decision to cancel all performances until at least May when the situation will be reassessed.  This means there will be no Drill Hall Film Society screenings for at least March and April and the season of Switzerland has been postponed, hopefully to the same time in 2021.

"Following yesterday's announcement, that NSW will shutdown non-essential services over the next 24 hours, we have made the difficult decision to also halt all classes and other activities at the Drill Hall until further notice.

"We apologise to everyone affected.  At the moment we live in a rapidly changing world.

"Keep well and we will see you back at the Drill in better times."


Crystal Castle

"We are open! We are an open air venue with plenty of space for social distancing.

"Our cafe is now 100 per cnet takeaway, so you can enjoy your food and drinks on our new seating around the 10 acres of gardens."


Hotel Brunswick

"As we're sure you are all aware, all non essential businesses are to close in the next 48 hours.

"This is sad news for us, but it feels better knowing that these changes will help slow the spread and in turn save lives!

"We will be trading tomorrow as a bottle shop only and offering some really great specials... so make sure you swing by and stock up.

"We will be using this down time to get our creative juices flowing, so when the time comes to reopen we will have something spectacular in store for you all... #secretshow!"



Dave's Bakehouse, Kyogle

Yes, we are open today... but it's not business as normal.

"We will be following the guidelines released last night by the government. This means that from today 12pm we will be offering takeaway only all seated dining will be stopped.

"We are waiting for the Governments announcement this morning to see if we will be classified as an essential service."


Richmond Valley Council

NRLX Operations Manager Brad Willis has confirmed livestock sales will continue at the Casino saleyards with only essential staff, agents and registered buyers permitted on site.

Mr Willis said he was actively working with all stakeholders to ensure the continuity of business, while taking into account the public health consequences of the COVID-19 virus situation.

"Social visitors, children and vulnerable people are banned until further notice," Mr Willis said.

Mr Willis said the NRLX would stay open as long as it complied with the rules.

"We want to reassure everyone we are full steam ahead at the NRLX," he said.

"However, it is incredibly important all stakeholders follow our health and safety measures to ensure the yards can continue to trade as an essential service.

"The NRLX is a vital cog in the food supply chain and we need everyone's cooperation to ensure the facility can operate for as long as possible.

"If everyone uses common sense, we'll get through."

Mr Willis is reminding buyers that the StockLive system of live-streaming and online bidding will be used at the saleyards for the first time this week for Thursday and Friday's weaner sales.

He said StockLive significantly expanded the ability for buyers to participate remotely, and aimed to ensure there was maximum competition for vendors.

Interested users must register in advance to purchase online at www.stocklive.com.au.