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Castlemaine embraces freedom as regions emerge from COVID lockdown

“Everybody in the town was fine. They almost had their licences out at the door. Everybody respected what we had to do.”

Mr Pauly said he was dedicated to providing a daily caffeine fix, even during lockdown, because it was crucial for Castlemaine residents’ mental wellbeing and gave them at least a brief social encounter.

Robyn Tressider and Margaret Sutton enjoy their breakfast in Castlemaine.

Robyn Tressider and Margaret Sutton enjoy their breakfast in Castlemaine.Credit:Justin McManus

Inside the cafe, Robyn Tresidder was seated with friends, tucking into eggs, toast and coffee in a corner booth.

“We’re devotees of going out for breakfast,” she said. “We get very excited when lockdown is finished, and the blue sky is out as well.”

Her friend, Margaret Sutton, was also enjoying the reprieve from lockdown, even though this one had lasted less than a week.

“We haven’t really been as badly hit as Melbourne,” she said.

There is still anxiety in Castlemaine about COVID-19 spreading from Melbourne and plunging regional Victoria into another lockdown.

Soldier and Scholar bookshop owner Joyce Sanders serves a customer on the first morning after lockdown six.

Soldier and Scholar bookshop owner Joyce Sanders serves a customer on the first morning after lockdown six. Credit:Justin McManus

Joyce Sanders, the owner of second-hand bookshop Soldier and Scholar, said she was fearful of Melburnians breaking the rules and bringing the virus with them.

“We’re a tourist spot where people are travelling around. We can get Melbourne people,” she said. “We can get Sydney people. It is scary for us.”

Ms Sanders said reopening on Tuesday was a confusing experience because her business had been forced to shut so many times for lockdowns.

Business Mount Alexander secretary Genevieve Ward said business operators had not expected to be released from lockdown so soon.

“It was definitely a surprise,” she said. “Because of the last lockdown being so close to this one, businesses were more ready to open up quickly.”

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