Victorian retailers in CBD shuttered in lockdown

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The extension of lockdown restrictions for Metropolitan Melbourne to 14 days will result in a two-and-a-half-billion-dollar hammer blow to the state’s retail industry, according to peak industry body the National Retail Association.

This morning the Victorian Government confirmed that the already announced seven-day lockdown would be continued by another week for Metropolitan Melbourne. The NRA calculates that the cumulative loss in sales across the 14 days will prove substantially higher than initial forecasts of one billion over seven days.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that while the sector accepted the Government had no choice, the extended lockdown would still prove to be a crippling blow to many retail businesses across the state.

“The Government had little choice but to extend the current round of hard-line restrictions, but make no mistake this will be a hammer blow to retail businesses throughout Melbourne,” Ms Lamb said.

“Across the entire 14-day lockdown, the NRA calculates that Victorian retailers will lose a combined total of two-and-a-half-billion-dollars in sales.

“We’re also concerned that even once the current restrictions are relaxed, there will continue to be a lag in economic activity due to a dent in consumer confidence. Foot traffic across major shopping precincts worsens with each lockdown, the Melbourne CBD has tracked consistently at 40 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Ms Lamb argued that, in addition to the $250 million business package announced last weekend by the Victorian Government, further assistance would be required.

“Retailers understand that public money doesn’t grow on trees, but without further government assistance real carnage could be inflicted on the Victorian economy,” Ms Lamb said.

“Each day Victoria is in lockdown businesses are either having revenue channels dramatically slashed or shut off all together, but still have to pay wages. If no help arrives, many affected retailers will have no choice but to shed jobs.

“The Federal Government’s JobKeeper program did a marvellous job in keeping businesses across all industries afloat during the height of the pandemic. But clearly hard-lockdowns are not yet a thing of the past and we strongly urge the Commonwealth to provide targeted assistance to retail businesses currently haemorrhaging during this round of heavy-handed restrictions.”


Restrictions breakdown

This afternoon the Victorian Government has announced that the lockdown, scheduled to end at 11.59pm tomorrow night, will be extended a further seven days in Metropolitan Melbourne. Restrictions will be easing in regional Victoria from 11.59pm tomorrow night.

Melbourne restrictions

In Melbourne, the only reason to leave your home during this period for one of the four reasons: sourcing essential supplies, authorised work or education, care and caregiving, exercise and to get vaccinated.

Exercise and shopping travel limited have been expanded to 10km from Melburnians’ homes. Exercise is allowed for two hours a day with household members, your partner, or one other person who is not from your household.

Masks will need to be worn everywhere except in your own homes and no visitors are allowed in homes other than intimate partners.

Regional Victoria restrictions

From 11.59pm tomorrow night, the five reasons to leave your house will be removed. Food and hospitality venues will be reopened for seated service only, with a cap of 50 people per venue subject to the density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm.

Retail and personal/beauty services venues may reopen for services where masks remain on.

Businesses that are open in regional Victoria but closed in Melbourne – restaurants or beauty for example – must check the IDs of everyone they serve to ensure customers are not Melbourne residents. This is to prevent transmission into the regions.

Masks will need to be worn everywhere except in your own homes and no visitors are allowed in homes other than intimate partners.

Travel to Melbourne is possible only for the permitted reasons (ie work if it cannot be done remotely) and Melbourne restrictions will need to be followed for the duration.

QR Codes mandatory in retail settings

The Victorian Government has announced an expansion of QR requirements to make it mandatory in retail settings like supermarkets and shops. The 15-minute threshold will also be removed so anyone entering a shop or a cafe will need to check-in. All venues and businesses required to undertake electronic record keeping must use the Victorian Government QR Code Service through the Service Victoria app. For instructions on how to switch your record keeping service, please visit here.

Increased funding for businesses

Additionally, a further $209 million will be added to the $250 million Circuit Breaker Business Support Package.

  • Business Costs Assistance Program will offer grants of $5,000 for eligible businesses directly affected by the circuit-breaker industry restrictions, including restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation providers and non-essential retailers.
  • Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will provide businesses holding an eligible liquor license and food certificate with a $7,000 grant per premises.

Grant applications now open on Thursday, 3 June 2021 to ensure businesses do not need to apply twice. Apply for the grants here.

Further, the Victorian Government will be speaking to the Federal Government to seek further assistance from the Commonwealth.

Each day Victoria is in lockdown businesses are either having revenue channels dramatically slashed or shut off all together, but still have to pay expenses. We are calling on the Federal Government to provide targeted assistance to the retail community in addition to the support package announced by the Victorian Government.