Tension surged through the shopping malls of Westfield Miranda as shops and cafes reopened fully vaccinated after 106 days of lockdown.
There were queues for barbershops and some of the shops to open and many early arrivals at cafes throughout the center.
Sarah Johnston, who along with her brother Andrew Shalhoub has run the popular Rubyniks cafe for 19 years, said their entire team was “very excited” to get back to work.
“This is more than business – we’re like family,” Johnston said.
“Many of our customers have been coming here for many years. We have missed them a lot and they us.
“We have staff who used to come here with their parents or grandparents from the age of four.
“Many of our employees were very bored during the lockdown and were so happy to have the chance to get back to work, even though in some cases they received more revenue through public payments.”
Jason and Jess Lucas, from Oyster Bay, enjoyed the simple pleasure of sitting in a cafe with their children Kelsey, 8, and Riley, 1.
“We decided to get here early before the crowds,” Jess said.
The couple said “homeschooling and the kids not being able to socialize with their friends was probably the hardest part of the lockdown, but overall it was okay”.
Former Sydney Roosters star Josh Morris, who announced his retirement from the NRL in late August, was yet another early arrival for breakfast with his wife Elise and their children Cali, 3, and, Jesse 1.
“It’s great to be able to get the kids out and do something other than walk in the park,” Elise said.
There were lines of people waiting for haircuts at the adjacent Just Cuts and The Traditional Barber Shop.
The reopening of pubs and clubs was also welcomed.
Chris Feros, CEO of Feros Group, said their three Sutherland Shire hotels – The Prince, Highfield Caringbah and Taren Point Hotel – were almost reserved for dining this week.
Among those who enjoyed a beer at Highfield Caringbah were Mitch Willie, Gary Parker and John Anthony.
Gary, the hotel’s full-time “maintenance person”, said the lockdown had been very frustrating.
“I’ve been here every day but haven’t been able to have a beer,” he said.
John, who recently retired, said: “I live right up the road and I’m happy to get out of the house, see the boys and enjoy the couple”.
“Today is like Christmas or Easter,” he said.
The Scents Group, which operates Westfield centers, said parking spaces across the retail network were at or close to capacity for parts of the day.
“This reinforces what we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, that once the restrictions are light, there’s a really strong demand for customers to return to physical retail experiences,” says CEO’s customer experience Lillian Fadel.
“After a successful trading day throughout the state, it was gratifying to see so many happy customers come back to the retail experiences they have missed. Especially beauty services were really popular and it was great to see customers out and visit their favorite stores and catch up with loved ones. breakfast or a cup of coffee.
“This is a busy and exciting time for our customers, retail partners and our center team, so we encourage everyone to visit their local center site to plan their trip before they visit.”