Look at the city through the eyes of COVID
By Rhonda Dredge
As the city recorded 200 days of lockdown in August, many CBD residents have been forced to adapt their livelihoods and professions to survive the pandemic.
Peter Michael, who sadly announced he was shutting down his camera business in January, is happy to have some owner’s obligations to fulfill.
And former bar fly and editor Michelle Matthews now works at a quarantine hotel.
The professions of these two highflyers are unlikely to ever be alike after the pandemic, but they are willing to speak openly about the changes in their lives.
Peter was in town to offer his support to his tenant who runs a container bar creatively tucked into the parking lot behind Michaels Camera Store.
“It’s free rent,” Peter told her, as they met for coffee and a chat in the alley.
Bar owners are playing a waiting game, and local residents like Michelle who moved to the CBD for the nightlife have had to find other activities as well.
During last year’s 112-day lockdown, the Instagram poster kept abreast of the city’s development and followed the renovations of five new hotels as plans came to fruition.
“There’s the Hilton, Next, Little Queen, QT and Crossley, all launched and open,” she said.
Michelle used to publish a guide to bars and restaurants. When Society Restaurant opened in July, she quickly jumped in, met a friend on a Tuesday night, and paid $ 55 for her best cocktail.
But it was a rare evening in the city. Michelle hasn’t had the urge to drink much since working in a quarantine hotel and is more likely to line up for a COVID test than a martini. She has a test every day.
“I feel privileged to have a job outside,” she said. CBD News about her post as administrator at Docklands. “I can go and be with people. It is something that I can do fully.
She now has a more layered view of the CBD as she takes her daily walks, delighted when walkers are no two to one compared to those in high visibility and pick up on signs of the pandemic such as the message that a being. Cher left on a wall outside the Stamford – another quarantine hotel.
Neither Michelle nor Peter abandons the city they love. They just look at him with new eyes.
Peter’s great-grandfather built the famous Michael Buildings, at the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale streets in 1916, and it was once home to a series of businesses, so “we’re back as owners,” he told about the decision to rent the property. .
He admitted that a combination of COVID and personnel issues had prompted him to take early retirement after working at the camera store since 1966. He opted for exercise over hard work for nothing .
“It was a very difficult decision after such a legacy,” he said. “COVID made me pause and think. I have bread on the table and a roof over my head. I am a very good ultra walker.
His first walk from Caulfield to Broadmeadows was 12 hours, his longest walk from Caulfield to Portsea and back to Rye, 26 hours.
While the CBD will lose the magic of the camera store, as well as its photographic museum, it made sense on a personal level for Peter to sell the stock.
He said Michaels was “a sophisticated, multi-branched company” and that it was too complicated to take a step back. At least Michael’s name in the photograph will continue with his son’s St Kilda business.
And Michelle is also philosophical about the changes in her life. When she worked for Ansett, her perks were free flights. In her current job, the benefit was a free vaccination in February •