Over the coming weeks, we look forward to many more Central Geelong businesses opening their doors and welcoming customers back into their restaurants, cafes, shops and service businesses. It’s a huge undertaking for business operators to navigate the new requirements of social distancing, gathering limits and cleaning and hygiene requirements on top of all the usual demands of running a business.

For many businesses, the way they operate has changed and customers will need to adapt to these changes. Many retail stores have reopened in Central Geelong over the last week, with both national chains and small independent operators returning to the streets within new guidelines. Signs have appeared indicating how many people are permitted in a premise, change rooms are being cleaned between uses, while sneeze guards and social distancing markers have been added to counters.

Geelong Dance & Fairywear Supplies have increased the opening hours of their physical store in Little Malop Street over recent weeks to Thursday – Saturday 10am to 12pm while still offering phone orders and free delivery.

Gifts for the Geek shut their physical store on 31 March and during the restrictions relocated their Central Geelong store to 105 Little Malop Central. They are now open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm with their unique offering including comics, graphic novels and records.

Central Geelong’s Maternal Instinct offered online sales, click and collect, gift wrapping and express delivery for their customers throughout the restrictions period and are now open for business from their cosy Moorabool Street store Monday to Saturday with Geelong’s largest range of maternity clothing as well as baby gifts, clothing and essentials.

Eddy Elias Menswear, a destination store in Moorabool Street offering quality men’s tailored products and attentive service, reopened early May and have been adjusting their opening hours to service customer needs. Open Monday through Sunday - check online at www.eddyeliasmeswear.com.au for opening hours.

From 1 June many restaurants and cafes in Central Geelong will offer dine in options within new government restrictions. With limits on the number of seated patrons (up to 20), all venues must comply with density requirements requiring four square metres per customer, space tables at least 1.5 metres apart, obtain contact details including name and phone number of each patron to assist with future contact tracing as well as extra cleaning and staff training on new procedures.

It’s a big change for eateries and there are many things that diners can do to assist restaurants and cafes as they reopen for dine in customers. Diners need to book in advance, arrive on time, leave at the end of the seating time when required and make sure they cancel the booking if unable to attend. Many restaurants will offer service seating times, set course menus or may require deposits or have minimum spend requirements.

Mavs Greek Restaurant will be opening their doors to the public on 1 June and due to the government restrictions will be operating with limited seating capacity. Mavs are asking people to book one of two seatings 5pm to 6.50pm and 7pm to late via the Book Now form on their website www.atmavs.com.au. Plus, they are continuing to bring authentic Greek dishes to Geelong via takeaway and home delivery.

Pistol Pete’s Food n Blues in Little Malop Street will have a limited number of seats available for dine in from 1 June and will only be taking phone bookings on 52210287.

Lipari Espresso Bar in Union St will open from 5pm on 1 June for dine in customers. They have restrictions in place to make it work and to abide by regulations and are taking bookings for up to four people via phone. They are asking customers to be on time and call with plenty of notice if they need to cancel. The dine in menu will be the same as the takeaway menu and they will not be offering BYO. Friday and Saturday nights will have three staggered seating times at 5.30pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm. Call 52225600 to make a booking.

Free casual on and off-street parking until 30 June 2020 in Central Geelong has been introduced by the City of Greater Geelong Council as a support measure to assist businesses and residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Time limits still apply.

Making sure you support local businesses is more important than ever. Shopping and eating local keeps money in the local community. Local businesses employ local people. They also use a wide range of local suppliers in running their businesses. This keeps the money you spend with them moving through the local economy – in turn supporting more businesses and creating more local jobs.

Making a choice to buy a product or service from a local business is not just good for the local business – it’s also good for you. You get great customer service from a local business, get to know the people who own or work in the store or eatery and you reduce your carbon footprint by staying close to home which is great for the environment. Local businesses also bring colour, energy and unique offerings to the streets of Central Geelong and that’s good for everyone.

It’s going to take a little getting used to but by following the guidelines and respecting the efforts of businesses to provide a safe environment, will help everyone stay safe.

To see how Central Geelong businesses have been doing things differently and to find out more about how you can keep supporting local businesses and the free parking options in Central Geelong visit www.centralgeelong.com.au or download the Love Central Geelong app.