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Sydney CBD to shut down as Covid cases worsen

Retailers are still vulnerable to Covid impacts, says ARA CEO. Image: @Dari via Twenty20

The City of Sydney, as well as three other nearby regions, has been ordered into lockdown for the next week as part of the escalating cluster of Covid-19 cases in the city.

NSW Health have identified up to 65 people as being infected by the latest outbreak, 22 of which were found overnight, and state premier Gladys Berijiklian said locking CBD workers down is a proportionate response to the threat further transmission poses.

“This is in order for us to ensure that this doesn’t take hold for weeks and weeks, and we believe this is a proportionate response to the risk,” Berijiklian said.

“What this does is make sure that we haven’t missed any chains of community transmissions.”

The order takes effect on Friday, 25 June at 11.59 pm, will be active for at least the next week, and hits the local government areas of City of Sydney, Waverly, Randwick and Woollahra.

NRA boss Dominique Lamb said the order will cost retailers as much as $750 million in lost sales, particularly as the lockdown comes in the final week of end-of-financial year sales.

“CBDs right across the country have struggled throughout Covid-19 and all have foot traffic well below pre-pandemic levels. Even if this lockdown is short and successful, it’s likely to further dent the number of consumers visiting the Sydney CBD once restrictions are lifted,” Lamb said.

“[And] retailers impacted by this lockdown will be doing so without the JobKeeper safety net.

“If we’re to cushion the economic blow of this round of restrictions then both the state and federal governments need to provide urgent assistance measures.”

For people who live or work in these areas, there are now only four reasons to leave their home: travel necessary for work or education (if you can’t work or learn from home), outdoor exercise, to provide care to a relative, or buying essential goods or services.

CBD retailers have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the next week is sure to be difficult as they are once again forced to close up shop. According to Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra, while the retail industry has seen a positive recovery since the onset of the pandemic, that recovery is uneven across the industry.

“Every lockdown comes at a significant cost, and there is now no safety net for retailers,” Zahra said last week.

“As we’ve seen over the past month in Victoria, and now in Sydney – the Covid threat is far from over and new cases can quickly emerge despite our best efforts to contain the virus.”

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