APOLLO Bay Bakery owner Sally Cannon wants her world back.
She says the latest Victorian lockdown hit her coastal home hard, and the absence of the JobKeeper lifeline has left many in the tourist town looking for a pathway back from the pandemic.
“The place was dead during Covid-19 restrictions,” Sally says.
“There was not a single person on the footpath, from one end of the town to the other – it was a ghost town.”
The community-minded president of the Apollo Bay Football Club says she rolled up her sleeve for the jab in a bid to revive the town and keep loved ones safe.
“I really believe this is the only way to get back to the way things were before the outbreak,” she says.
“Covid hurt my business the first time because there were no longer any international tourists, but take away the domestic tourists as well and there is no way we can carry on.”
Lorne residents are facing similar issues, trying to protect their elderly community yet desperate for visitors to return.
And local gallery operator Anna McIldowie knows the world is watching Australia’s vaccine rollout with bated breath.
The In the Skies Art and Music owner says a close friend stuck in London has witnessed first-hand the virus spiralling out of control.
“She’s stuck in London, unable to get home to her family, watching with disbelief that Australia hasn’t already seized the opportunity to vaccinate the majority of the population”
Her personal stories have driven Anna’s way of thinking, who plans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The 37-year-old dreams of one day welcoming people together in her gallery – international and domestic tourists and locals alike, to have a great time and enjoy the exhibitions and music.
“It is an amazing thing to be protected,” she says.
“This is the golden period for getting vaccinated in Australia, while we have the virus under control – the whole continent can be saved.”
“I just hope we don’t waste this incredible opportunity”
Anna says another friend in the UK has been suffering from Long Covid for about six months.
“She still can’t walk 100 metres, can’t walk upstairs. It is completely debilitating and she was a normal fit 30-year-old,” she says.
For Lorne HAH Café owner Katy Walker it’s all about giving back to the community she has been part of for 15 years.
The 37-year-old CFA first-responder loves her small coastal town with a passion and understands the significance of living in a region with a small health service and ageing population.
“I’ve already had a second dose of Pfizer and it’s a great feeling,” she says.
Originally from the UK, Katy is concerned for family and friends living overseas in Covid hotspots.
“I feel so lucky to be living in this country and so blessed,” she says. “It is a different world over there.”
Although Katy was vaccinated early because of her work as a CFA first-responder, she says dreams of future travel and concern for the vulnerable made it an easy decision.
“To be able to get vaccinated was a no-brainer for me,” she says.
“I want to travel, so the sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner that will become possible again.”
She says her café suffered from the pandemic but believes the latest lockdown was the most damaging, both for business and the mental health of the local population.
“There is no other way out of this,” she says. “In my opinion, vaccination is the only way back.”