Business leaders have criticized a decision to keep vendors in Melbourne closed for another two weeks, arguing it would prolong the pain for businesses that were already hanging by a thread.
The announcement comes as a blow to a sector already hampered by a recent spending drop of 12.6 per cent.
And approximately one in 10 city workers losing their jobs since the pandemic began, the delay has been criticized by retail and hospitality leaders.
For Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the national employers association Ai Group, said The new daily the continued ban on retail activity was surprising, given the “great sacrifices made by the Victorians”.
Mr Piper said some small businesses had not been able to trade for seven months of blockages, with a lack of security taking an emotional and mental toll.
“From a business perspective, very little has happened,” Mr Piper said.
“Retail is kind of open, manufacturers will not open more than they had, restrictions in regional Victoria have been maintained and there is no certainty about what will happen these next two weeks.”
Beyond the resumption of retail activity, Mr. Piper urged the state government to remove the payroll tax for the first $ 10 million of every business payroll to help facilitate cash flow in their recovery after the blockade.
With businesses also needed to implement a secure strategy for COVID, he said it would help companies “reduce costs” by introducing risk mitigation strategies.
“The government should look at supporting businesses in recognizing how they can take these steps and help them ensure they are as efficient as possible,” Mr Piper said.
The protests come as several small business owners received a welcome dose of good news, with Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announcing on Sunday that the following businesses could reopen from October 19:
- Hairdressers and Barbers
- Pet care (as on-site and mobile contactless cleaners)
- Non-essential house maintenance (including home renovations, painting and repairs, with a maximum of five workers on site)
- Car wash (only automatic stand-alone car wash, self-wash or self-service car wash only)
- Outdoor photography (for purposes other than those already permitted under previous restrictions)
- Outdoor auctions will also be allowed (with 10 people, plus staff), along with the return of all allied health services and increased capacity of slaughterhouses and food processing equipment.
Rules for hospitality businesses in regional Victoria will also be relaxed from Monday, with 40 clients allowed inside and 70 people outside.
But Melbourne retailers, the public and restaurateurs will experience a disappointing two weeks before reopening their doors on 2 November.
This despite the initial state roadmap from the blockade, stating that those businesses would start trading on October 26th.
Mr Andrews noted that the new timeline could be introduced, depending on whether the state meets certain standards.
But Australia Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the “wait and see” approach was “disappointing”, suggesting that the NSW reopening model demonstrated a “sensitive middle ground”.
This is an inexplicable and unacceptable delay for Victorians and small businesses that depend on a day, not a week, Ms. Westacott said.
There is no sound reason to continue restrictions in business, especially with case numbers clearly on a declining trajectory.
You are simply allowed to go for a haircut or go out a little more when you have no job, no money and your business has failed, it just is not good enough.
According to the updated guide, retailers can return to prepare their physical stores for trade from October 28, before the doors open five days later.
Australian Retail Association General Manager Paul Zahra welcomed the move and said the return of stores to the stage would allow businesses to take advantage of the closed demand before Christmas.
“While this date is many weeks later than we would have hoped, it is time for the official start of the Christmas shopping season and very welcome news for retailers who have been desperately seeking clarity for months,” said Zahra.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra also embraced the updated roadmap, urging Victorians to adhere to social distance and mask protocol to ensure a quick resumption of retail activity.
“We have already heard from our hospitality and retail operators, and they are desperate to get back to work,” Mr Guerra said.
Now, with the Prime Minister signaling the potential to open even earlier, the Victorian Chamber urges every Victorian to do the right thing so that the Prime Minister announces the full reopening of the business next Sunday.
The Victoria Real Estate Institute (REIV) welcomed Sunday’s announcement, suggesting that resuming personal auctions would give new life to the spring sale season.
Now is the time for all of us to start a safe and gradual return to work and rebuild the economy step by step, said REIV President Leah Calnan,
This decision is the recognition that the real estate profession can be entrusted to conduct inspections and auctions in a safe and responsible manner. “
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