Supermarket hub of Omakau

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Food, post, home delivery, over-the-counter medicine and local gossip — as managers of Omakau Supermarket, partners Khushbu Dayma and Hardik Vaghela are, for now, the centre of the community. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Omakau Supermarket is an oasis for a small Central Otago township otherwise in lockdown.

Khushbu Dayma said she was following “stay-at-home” rules while her partner, Hardik Vaghela, manned the only essential service business in the rural service township of 250.

This was partly because her visa was attached to her position as assistant manager — she applied to be a manager on March 25 and was on an interim visa until that was approved. Keeping the community happy was their focus, she said.

“We are the only ones open and we are very thankful.”

Despite restrictions on movement, she said the situation in the township was “not bad” and because the majority of people living there were of retirement age, they were not venturing far from home.

“People are really afraid to go to Alex [Alexandra] to shop. People are happy to support local.”

She had heard of people making the 30km journey and having to wait in line up to 30 minutes.

In terms of managing demand they were “coping” and had a good supply chain, Mrs Dayma said.

With the nearby cafe and several pubs in the immediate area closed, the supermarket was the only place people could go.

That did not mean breaching Covid-19 protocols.

“We are letting one person in and one person out.

“We are also making deliveries if people need that.”

That ran the gamut of food deliveries and over-the- counter medication such as paracetamol.

The community was “really supportive” but running the store did carry an element of stress especially when it came to passers-by.

“It is hard to manage if we don’t know where the customer has come from or where they have been.”

The couple came to New Zealand from India five years ago, and moved to Omakau to manage the store for its Auckland-based owner a year ago.

Otago Daily Times