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UPDATED: Reopening after being a COVID exposure site

Sydney's Murugan temple, Saravanaa Bhavan and Udaya supermarket reveal how they were affected after a COVID positive patron visited their establishment.

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“We did not have a clue, because the customer was asymtopmatic.”

Since the news of popular spots Saravanaa Bhavan and Udaya supermarket being COVID exposure sites was publicly announced by NSW Health last week, the businesses have resumed activities.

The two could be classified as venues that Indian community and those who love Indian food, flock to like flies. Rajeshwaran from Saravanaa Bhavan and Sharath from Udaya supermarket spoke to Indian Link about the aftermath of the announcements and how their businesses made a comeback.

“We had the deep cleanup and sanitising done as soon as were notified by NSW Health that something like this had happened,” Sharath, manager of Udaya Supermarket in Wentworthville said. “As soon as we were informed, the same evening we got all the things done overnight. It took about 6 hours and we were open to public as usual the next day.”

After knowledge that a store or organisation had been exposed to a COVID positive patron becomes breaking news, there are bound to be repercussions.

“Udaya supermarket is the largest Indian store in Sydney and we had a change in the number of people visiting, obviously, because people were panicking,” Sharath revealed. 

Both businesses already mandated their employees to wear masks and gloves, along with an existing QR system to facilitate contact tracing. In Saravanaa Bhavan’s case, the eatery already provides online menus and ordering services to minimize interaction between customers and employees.

READ ALSO:12 Wentworthville venues identified as possible COVID exposure sites

Saravanaa Bhavan manager Rajeshwaran mentioned that the restaurant has “always viewed our customers’ health, and social responsibility bigger than business”.

Meanwhile, the team at Saravanaa Bhavan in Parramatta has installed a thermal scanner to scan customers before entering the restaurant.

“Generally, we clean the entire restaurant everyday with food grade sanitisers, and after a customer leaves, we clean their tables and seating area. But after the news, we closed for one day for deep cleaning. And now, we have installed a state-of-the-art thermal scanner which scans everybody who walks into the restaurant,” he said.

While the well-known restaurant’s business was affected by the scare, their operations were barely hindered by the news.

“We hardly closed. The directive from public health was that once all of us test negative it can be business as usual, so when we went to get tested, we just kept other employees to work while we were away. The person from NSW health’s data collection department even told us that we had it under control, the exact words were ‘looks like you’re on top of things’,” Rajeshwaran proudly stated.

Meanwhile, the Murugan Temple in Mays Hill which was also listed as an exposure site, is now open as well.

The popular temple remained closed to the public for a day after it was revealed that a COVID-positive person had visited on 1 January 2021 between 12:40pm to 1:30pm. Deep cleaning took place on the following day, Temple secretary KG Bascaran told Indian Link.

“We worked closely with the NSW Health Department, providing a complete list of electronically recorded guests between 12:00pm to 2:00pm on 1 Jan,” Mr Bascaran said. “They informed us that they would contact everyone on this list and inform them of the actions to follow.”

Sydney’s Murugan Temple

He added, “We also immediately contacted all our priests, employees and volunteers who were on duty during that time to inform them of the confirmed incident and asked them to go for a COVID test immediately and isolate themselves. Also they were told to wait for further advice from the NSW Health Department.”

The Temple is pleased with the continuous communication the NSW Health Department provided throughout this whole process. “They gave us clear direction and instructions,” Mr Bascaran said.

For the first couple of days there was a decrease in the number of devotees, he revealed. “Since then the numbers have started to increase to almost normal. On 14 January 2021, Thai Pongal Day around 650 devotees visited the temple for worship.”

What would he like to say to patrons to welcome them back?

“We are COVID Safe. We are following all the safe practices. We are still in contact with the NSW Health Department for continuous information sharing purposes.”

With RAJNI ANAND LUTHRA

READ ALSO:Saravanaa Bhavan, Murugan Temple among possible Parramatta COVID exposure sites

Bageshri Savyasachi
Bageshri Savyasachi
Truth-telling, tree-hugging journalist.

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