Sat. May 21st, 2022

In a shed in the green backyard of a home in southwest Sydney, Cameron Elder sweats under a leather apron as he hammers a blade on an anvil while an oven burns behind him.

What was once a self-taught hobby of making bespoke knives has become a source of income during Sydney’s 15-week lockdown, keeping its main business afloat.

The cafe he runs with partner Krystyna Hulewicz, The Angry Gnome in Rockdale, has been closed since July.

Cameron's elder makes custom knives
Cameron Elder’s side business of making custom knives has kept its cafe afloat during Sydney’s long lockdown.(

ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood


At the beginning of the lockdown, the couple dumped the entire stock under the impression that they would not only be able to open up for the rules to be changed shortly after.

So while some in their position may be passionate about reopening when the city takes its first steps out of lockdown tomorrow, the pair are taking a cautious approach.

“We are really skeptical of reopening, we do not have much money to open-close, open-close,” Ms Hulewic said.

“With the change of [state] government and everything that is happening, we are really afraid to just reopen our doors and act as usual.

“If it does not succeed, we are in a way screwed together.”

The Angry Gnome in Rockdale
The owners of Rockdale’s The Angry Gnome cafe will wait at least a week before reopening completely.(

ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood


The couple received about $ 10,000 from an NSW state grant, but say they owe $ 12,000 in rent and expect it will cost about $ 5,000 to rebuild the cafe.

So they wait at least a week to reopen and will initially only sell takeaway.

“This is our last chance … I do not think we would be able to reopen if we have to close again,” Mr Elder said.

Politicization of customers deterrent

Sir. Elder and Mrs. Hulewic are also concerned about the idea of ​​leading police to their clients.

“It’s very uncomfortable,” Mrs Hulewic said.

“We do not want to have to turn regular customers and loyal customers away based on their vaccine choices.”

Krystyna Hulewicz makes coffee
The idea of ​​rejecting people who are not vaccinated is unpleasant, Ms Hulewic says.(

ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood


It is a feeling shared by Carla Filipakis, who runs an activities for children and workshops, Decorati.

During the lockdown, she has made her workshops over Zoom from her house in West Hoxton and prepared home kits, which she delivers to families within 5 miles.

But the challenges of being COVID-safe with children and checking parental vaccination status mean she will not reopen until the final phase of the roadmap.

“I work with kids, so it’s hard not to immediately stand in front of them,” Filipakis said.

“I work with all parents and families so we connect on an ongoing basis and this whole vaccination and COVID rules is a real challenge.

“It’s really a lot of stress, and I’m getting families constantly told, ‘how are you going to handle this,’ but I’m trying to do it the best way I can within the guidelines – and that’s all I can really do. “

Carla Filipakis
Carla Filipakis has conducted workshops for children via Zoom.(

ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood


But when she reopens, Filipakis can’t wait to give kids some of the fun they’ve missed.

“The last 18 months have been such uncertain times for all of us, especially children,” she said.

Some still want to go

Alexandria UN1T Gym owners Alex Menchin and Matt Hunt are ready to open their doors as soon as they can.

They received the keys to their new premises a week before the lockdown.

“So what was going to be a pretty quick and quick fit turned out to be three times as long,” Mr Hunt said.

“Knowing that things would grow and grow and grow and not have a date for us was the really stressful part because you are building towards an opening, but we have no idea when we will be allowed to open,” he said.

Because they are a new business, they could not receive any business grants.

Matt Hunt from un1t gym
Matt Hunt has been training clients in the parking lot during the lockdown.(

ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood


So they have kept some money in by training members online and in their parking lot – a big challenge considering that most of the lockdown has been through the winter.

They are convinced that they will be able to function safely, but there is still a lot of confusion about the different rules they have to navigate.

“We’m lucky we have 170 square feet of open space, so … we have plenty of space to keep our distance,” Menchin said.

“We are vaccinated, all our members will be vaccinated in the first place, our cleaning standards are high, even having all new equipment is a big plus for us.

“All businesses need guidance on whether [a COVID case comes in] what the new rules will contain, “he said.

Matt and Alex from UN1T gym Alexandria
The owners of the UN1T gym are confused about the opening rules.(

ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood


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