I hope you all had an enjoyable and successful Easter weekend. With many Australians taking full advantage of the extra-long weekend, it is traditionally a busy time for retailers across the country and with any luck 2021 was no different. In particular, hopefully those of you operating in tourist regions reaped the benefit from the Federal Government’s half-priced airfare initiative and recouped some of the lost ground from over the last 12 months.
The developments in Queensland last week highlight that hard-lockdowns are still not quite a thing of the past. With the vaccine rollout having been slower than expected, respective state governments are clearly not prepared to completely shun the prospect of reimposing stiff restrictions to contain any COVID outbreaks.
Our message to each of the state governments is simple – retailers can safely manage the risks associated with COVID-19 and any further hard-lockdowns should be both brief and a last resort. Retailers of all shapes and sizes across Australian have demonstrated over the past 12 months that the sector can provide a safe environment for workers and shoppers alike.
Even during busy periods such as Christmas and Boxing Day, retail businesses have been vigilant in enforcing customer limits in stores, ensured social distancing, and have implemented strong hygiene measures appropriate to their business type. We were therefore happy that the Queensland Government listened to our request not to extend the lockdown and show faith in the state’s retailers to adhere to safety protocols.
With JobKeeper having now ended there is no longer a safety net protecting both businesses and the people they employ. This is why following last week’s lockdown of Greater Brisbane the NRA Legal team prepared this guide. If you haven’t already, I encourage all of you to have a read to ensure you’re aware of your responsibilities should your business be affected by any future lockdown. The team can also be contacted on 1800 572 679.
In other news, the Federal Government has made a submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) cautioning against a substantial rise in the minimum wage. Our view, which has also been echoed by other industry associations from other sectors, is that a decision should be delayed until November 1. Of course, we want the lowest paid workers to receive a sufficient wage, but we’re equally concerned about making sure those same workers stay in a job. The economic conditions are simply too volatile at present and deferring the decision until the end of the year will hopefully result in workers receiving a rise that doesn’t jeopardise jobs. We will continue to keep you informed on this issue and any developments that transpire.
All the best for the week ahead.