“Devastating blow”: Victoria returns to lockdown

Retailers in Victoria are facing an unhappy Valentines Day, with the state reentering a stage 4 lockdown for the next five days in what Premier Dan Andrews called a “short, sharp circuit-breaker.”

From midnight tonight, there are only four reasons to Victorians to leave the house: hopping for essential supplies, care and caregiving, exercise and essential work.

According to Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra, it’s a devastating blow for a group of retailers that have been through a lot already.

“Unfortunately, some of the horrors of 2020 continue,” Zahra said.

“Sadly, there won’t be much love in the air for Victoria businesses this Valentine’s Day. Last minute shopping will be curtailed and romantic dinner date plans have been dashed.

“That’s a massive blow for restaurants who would have been fully booked for one of their busiest nights of the year.”

Zahra has previously criticised state governments for make snap decisions when it came to locking down their business communities, and that they are doing more damage to businesses than they realise.

“Businesses are at the mercy of the different approaches from different Premiers, with very little planning time around what he latest restrictions mean,” Zahra said.

“We certainly hope the Victorian health authorities get on top of this quickly and that this lockdown doesn’t drag out longer than it needs to.”

Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott agrees with Zahra, stating even a short lockdown will have a monumental impact on the state – socially and economically.

“Small businesses will now be making decisions about whether to lay-off staff or destroy inventory. Airlines will be cancelling thousands of flights and shifts,” Westacott said.

“New outbreaks shouldn’t be a surprise; this is a highly contagious virus, but we know by now that we have to live alongside it.

“The Victorian government must now explain why this step is necessary and exactly how this will work for each and every business across the state.”

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