Life is returning to the heart of Kogarah

Life is returning to the shops along Railway Parade at Kogarah.

"People have started coming back," said Megan Barker of Aangela's Florist.

"It's good to see the hustle and bustle. There's people sitting outside the cafes having lunch. There's people walking by with their shopping. There are cars parking on Railway Parade.

"We went through a stage a month ago where you could park anywhere," she said.

"When the pandemic hit, all of a sudden Railway Parade was a barren strip. I've been here since 1988 and I can't remember a time like it.

"People were scared to come out, people were scared to say hello to one another. I took the opposite attitude. I used to say hello to strangers walking by the shop just to make them feel welcome.

"A couple of shops took a week or two off. Some businesses are still closing for a couple of days a week but most are back on deck.

"Some businesses are really struggling. Sole traders didn't seem to get any benefit at all from the government. One of our local businesses didn't get any government assistance because he didn't have any employees. He didn't get anything."

Megan stressed that now, more than ever, it was important to shop local.

One person who is happy to be back is Megan's mum, Norma Williams, 92, who is often in the shop keeping Megan company.

At the start of the pandemic, Norma, who lived through the Great Depression and World War II, said she had never seen anything like the panic buying she has witnessed.

"There was none of this stripping the shelves," she said at the time. "No-one argued like this. People never panicked. It's out of control."

Norma has kept busy while isolating at home but she is happy to be back.

"I had plenty to do to keep me busy," she said. "I even found a colouring book to keep me occupied."

Since coming back to Kogarah this week she is happy to see things have returned to normal.

"All the bad news is over," Norma said. "We can all shout out hip-hip-hooray!

"Last Saturday for the first time in two months I went out shopping and found that there's plenty of food on the shelves.

"There seems to be better behavior than before. I think we're all back to normal. I'm just glad it is all over. Just stand back from people for a while and it will be fine," she said.