BENDIGO residents are being encouraged to show local organisations and businesses some love.
It comes as easing COVID-19 restrictions enable more facilities to reopen their doors.
The City of Greater Bendigo launched a campaign on Friday to drive social and economic recovery, called Love Your Local.
The campaign builds on efforts to encourage people to shop local whenever possible, before the pandemic.
Business owners from industries ranging from fashion to floristry to food attended the launch, taking the opportunity to express their gratitude for the community support they had received at the height of the restrictions.
"As we're starting to come out of restrictions now, we're really wanting people to get back in touch with whatever their local is - so if it's local hairdresser, local florist, local sporting club, local pub - it's really about reconnecting," Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke said.
She said the campaign wasn't just about getting people to spend money.
"There are many in our community that are doing it tough, and we acknowledge that as well. So this campaign is trying to touch everyone in however they can afford to do that or however socially they want to do that," Cr O'Rourke said.
"This is not about pushing people to get out if they still feel anxious, as well. It's making sure they just get connected with who's important to them."
Precautions such as social distancing and hand hygiene still applied, the mayor said. As did limits to the number of people who could be inside a premises at any given time.
"So I would just encourage people to be really kind and tolerant," Cr O'Rourke said.
Robe Bendigo's Fiona Rooke said the business, which is in Chancery Lane, had received a lot of support since re-opening about two weeks ago.
"It's been really encouraging," Ms Rooke said.
Libertine Florist's Heather Purtill said the inability to visit family and friends to mark milestones in their lives had meant many had turned to sending flowers as a way to show their love and support.
She had her doubts about whether people would consider the services of florists essential, when COVID-19 broke out in Australia.
"But in fact, it turns out we might be essential in [that] we're that link between people and their families," Ms Purtill said.
Bendigo Community Farmers Market manager Chris Hain was hopeful some of the positive changes to arise from the circumstances would continue long-term.
Markets increased in frequency during the pandemic, becoming weekly.
Stallholder numbers rose, as did the support of the community.
"A lot of people have started to use that as their primary source of shopping each week," Mr Hain said.
"We've seen that real strong motivation amongst our shoppers to say we want to support local businesses and we want to eat better."
He said the perception of food shortages, driven by empty shelves in supermarkets, had helped some people appreciate their local food system.
"What we've seen in the local food system - the producers that come to the farmers market - there wasn't a shortage of anything," Mr Hain said.
He said some of the products people were complaining about not being able to get were in abundant supply at the farmers market, if they were seasonal.
"That's why supporting the local food system is really important. If we all get behind that and we support it, it is strong, it is resilient, and it is focused on what is obviously in season," Mr Hain said.
Some suppliers had realised the value of incorporating farmers markets into their business models, having previously been reliant on supporting restaurants and the food services industry.
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