How to support your local economy and stay sane during self-isolation

Economically and socially speaking, things are pretty wild right now. You might be learning about Thursday’s emergency RBA interest rate cut - which brought the official cash rate down to an historic low of 0.25% - from home as you self isolate in an effort to minimise the spread of Coronavirus. And if you had plans to attend a concert, see a theatre show, have dinner at a busy restaurant or check out an art gallery, they’ve probably been cancelled. 

But as many of us worry what the rate cut means for our savings accounts or what we can claim on tax while working from home, others have lost their jobs. Those in creative fields and the hospitality industry have been hit particularly hard across Australia. If you are able to maintain your income while in self isolation, there’s a lot you can do to help keep your local cafés and restaurants in business, or support musicians and artists who’ve lost out on cancelled gigs and shows. And happily, these efforts can also alleviate some of the cabin fever you may be experiencing at the moment.

Don’t ask for a refund to cancelled events

Whether it’s for an opera recital, a cultural festival, a theatre show or a pub rock gig, consider donating the cost of your ticket to the institution running things. These groups support not only artists but huge teams of technicians, install crews, hospo workers and other staff, and even if they’ve temporarily shut their doors, they’ll need your support to continue to do so into the future. 

Some tickets might be refunded automatically, but you can choose to make a direct donation to individual institutions or to dedicated charities like Support Act, which delivers financial and wellness assistance to musical artists and industry workers. There may also be the option to hold onto your ticket if gigs or theatre seasons are indefinitely postponed. Whatever way you choose to help out will hopefully make for a more creative future and give you a lot to look forward to.

Get into the live stream life 

As of March 19, I Lost My Gig Australia has recorded a $200 million loss in income from cancellations due to bushfires and Coronavirus in the music industry alone. Social distancing is the wisest precaution to employ right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy live tunes, do some learning, and support the creatives and industry workers who keep the entertainment world running while you’re at it. 

Tune into innovative live digital experiences like the free Instagram Live music festival Isol-Aid, where 72 indie artists including Stellar Donnelly, Angie McMahon and Julia Jacklin will play from their living room or balcony straight to yours. Listeners are encouraged to donate to Support Act and buy merch to send funds to their favourite artists. And if you need an extra injection of culture or history, museums, art galleries and even zoos around Australia and the world are offering more virtual tours and experiences for people holed up in their homes.

Keep it local and get it delivered

As of March 23, non-essential businesses and services will close under a federal order to advance social distancing and isolation measures. While this includes pubs, clubs, bars and other entertainment venues, restaurants and cafés are still able to provide take-away services (if it's practical for their business model). This means you can keep supporting your local café or Friday night dinner spot by ordering at-home snackage, while also minimising stressful grocery excursions. 

The same reasoning applies to many of your other beloved local institutions. Bookstores, bottle shops and coffee roasteries can deliver goodies to your quarantine zone. So stock up on these not-so-essentials, because the road ahead is uncertain and a good book and glass of wine will never go astray.

Plan ahead and buy vouchers

We can’t predict the future, so let’s keep everyone’s spirits up by assuming there will be one. Buying a gift voucher is a great way to do that. Whether it’s for a local restaurant or retail outlet, purchasing a voucher for yourself or a friend will warm your heart two-fold by keeping a much-loved business afloat for another day, and providing you with that giddy gift-giving or getting feeling. 

Be kind 

A little altruism can go a long way in a crisis. If you feel like humanity is fraying at the edges, get involved in the #ViralKindness movement. The campaign, which implores those who are well and able to provide practical and emotional support to their neighbours, came out of the UK and has spread across Australia in recent days. The concept is simple: drop leaflets around your local area outlining your contact details and some helpful tasks you can do for those in isolation or who might otherwise be vulnerable in the current climate. This could be doing their grocery shop, posting some mail or simply having a chat over the phone to break up the day.

RELATED ARTICLE: Guide to Australian banks’ emergency Coronavirus relief packages.

So you can dedicate extra funds to supporting local industries, make sure you’re getting the best deal on your energy bills and home loan with Mozo’s comparison tools.