Valentine’s Day cancelled: Businesses crushed as snap lockdown delivers $97 million hit

There won’t be much love in the air across Victoria this weekend as the entire state enters a five-day snap coronavirus lockdown on Friday night.

Lovebirds are caged, Cupid has moved to NSW, and businesses that stocked up for a big Valentine’s Day weekend are crushed.

More than 3,000 bouquets at Flowers For All in Fitzroy are now slowly rotting with nowhere to to go, business owner Sandy said.

“It’s heartbreaking,” the business owner told The New Daily.

“We we’re really hoping Valentine’s Day would help us get back on even footing and recover some of our [2020] losses.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he had no choice but to confine residents to their homes after five coronavirus cases leaked out of the Holiday Inn Hotel quarantine facility this week.

But Mr Andrews’ romantic plans weren’t cancelled.

“[Its] nothing that we celebrate in our house,” he told reporters.

Aside from Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Lunar New Year celebrations have also been scuppered in the snap lockdown.

It all means Victorian businesses could lose $97 million in revenue over the next five days, the Restaurant and Catering Association estimates.

“The love has been taken away,” CEO Wes Lambert said. “It’s all destroyed.”

A further $27 million in produce is expected to be “rubbished” as restaurants and cafes rush to cancel packed reservation books.

Nick Murray, owner of the exchange hotel in Horsham, will throw out $10,000 in stock, saying the decision was a “slap in the face”.

Regional Victoria has not recorded any cases but was locked down as well amid fears those fleeing Melbourne would spread the virus there.

“The borders can close in a couple of hours, I fail to see how they can’t establish some sort of perimeter,” Mr Murray told The New Daily.

Mr Murray has been forced to cancel a 21st birthday party for 150 customers and expects to lose $35,000 in income in total.

Will Newton, owner of Windsor’s Lover restaurant, said the news was “soul destroying”, predicting he will lose $40,000 in income.

“We will just go into zombie mode,” Mr Newton told AAP after cancelling four fully-booked sittings booked for the weekend.

Businesses are still allowed to sell takeaway and delivery orders, but there’s not much romance in an UberEats bag.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the lockdown is a “massive blow” for businesses across the state.

“[Retailers] have been through so much in the past year and have done their best to return to even footing … the horrors of 2020 continue,” he said in a statement.

“The vaccines can’t come soon enough, but even when they’re rolled out we’ll still be living with COVID for some time, so the existing challenges will remain for retail.”

Bed-and-breakfasts are also feeling the pain.

Anne, owner of Luna Blu Luxury B&B in Phillip Island, said she was booked out for the weekend but has had to cancel everyone.

“What can you do, its better to be safe than sorry,” she told The New Daily.

Some online businesses are expecting a surge though.

“There’s always a surge when there’s a lockdown,” Shaneka Joseph, of online florist My Flower Room, told The New Daily.

“Its a bit of a shock for everyone though, I’m really heartbroken for all the retailers that have to close.”

The Australian Open will also continue, albeit without spectators.

-with AAP

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