WIMMERA businesses have tentatively started reopening their doors, after closing them weeks ago due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Hairdressers and retail stores are among those returning life to Wimmera streets.
Eased restrictions and a lack of coronavirus cases are two strong factors behind the return.
Jo Burford owns three hair salons in Horsham: D'Coco Hair Studio, D'Lush Studio and Hydeaway Hair.
She closed all three in March after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced customers must not be on the premises of a hairdresser or barber shop for longer than 30 minutes.
Though Mr Morrison later retracted the rule, Mrs Burford kept her salons closed, unsure what to expect next.
After three or four weeks, she chose to reopen.
Mrs Burford said no new coronavirus cases in the region in more than a month was a factor, as were financial reasons.
"I came back myself to make sure I was comfortable and then brought others back," she said.
She stayed in contact with her staff of about 15 people during the shutdown.
"We closed as a team and I wanted to open as a team," she said,
When things looked ready to start again, Mrs Burford messaged her clients and asked for their thoughts.
She was surprised by the overwhelming response of: "Totally, we'll be there if you open your doors".
With their support, Mrs Burford began working again.
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"The clients have been amazing and really pleased to be able to come out," she said.
She said having hair done was more than just a necessity for many people, but also a chance to unwind.
"It's nice to come in to be pampered," she said.
Mrs Burford said staff rosters and hours had changed to comply with restrictions on the number people allowed in a salon at a time.
She said there was also a lot more cleaning occurring, with stations being wiped down regularly and clients being asked to sanitise when they entered.
D'Coco is now open late four nights a week to support mothers who might be unable to attend during the day due to schools being closed.
Mrs Burford said she was grateful to be back at work.
She said she had plans to share the support her businesses had received from other businesses.
Mrs Burford gave a huge thank-you to the region's healthcare workers.
She congratulated the community on slowing the spread of coronavirus.
"The whole community has done a great job," she said.
"I would love to add a big thank you to all our wonderful clients, my super dream team of stylists and Matrix Professional, our product company, for their great support through this time.
"It's just really nice to be back doing what we do."
Previous coverage: Wimmera businesses experience mixed fates under coronavirus shutdown
Kaniva Floor and Decor owners Jemma and Jason Hill reopened their store on Tuesday, after closing on March 28.
Mrs Hill said she expected it would be a slow burn for business to return to normal.
She has started on reduced hours - open only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
"It always takes a long time for the community to pick up changes," she said.
"Hopefully business will pick up again."
Mrs Hill said there were fewer people moving about the town due to social distancing restrictions.
She said she wanted to reopen because she knew how hard it could be to build the business back up if it was closed too long.
"I was concerned if I was closed for too long people would get into the habit of internet buying or out of town shopping," she said.
"I was feeling a little bit more secure with the fact the community hadn't had any new cases - not just here but also in Horsham. I keep a really close eye on Horsham because so many people from this town go there weekly."
While the shopfront was closed, the business still had customers.
Mrs Hill said the balloon part of the business did particularly well. She said balloons were a way for people to celebrate events like birthdays, even in isolation.
But she said she had also lost business, such as balloons for a March madness event in Bordertown.
"They were teeing me up to do huge, gorgeous stuff - and then it didn't happen," she said.
Mrs Hill said the flooring side of the business also slowed down.
But the shutdown did give her a chance to tackle something that had been on her radar for a while: a website.
Mrs Hill first started working on the business's website about six months ago but it hadn't got very far.
"Pretty much as soon as (coronavirus restrictions) started I smashed it out over five days," she said.
She said some people from out of town had bought gifts for those in town they couldn't visit from the website.
She said others screenshotted what they wanted online, and then rang her to place an order.
Mrs Hill urged people to continue supporting their community's businesses.
"That's the main thing," she said.