The state of Victoria is entering a snap five-day lockdown starting 11:59 pm, 15 June, in an effort to quash Covid-19 cases that have popped up in the community.
As of Thursday, 18 cases were confirmed in the state. Premier Dan Andrews said the restrictions that were in place during the last lockdown would be repeated now.
“If you were authorised to work then, you will be authorised to work now. If you were closed then, you will be closed now,” Andrews said.
“That was successful then and this will be successful now.”
This will mean that, as of today, certain businesses – including retailers not deemed essential – will be unable to open their doors and can only operate via click and collect and online delivery.
Shops like supermarkets, food stores, bottle shops, banks, petrol stations and pharmacies will be able to remain open. Cafes and restaurants will be able to offer take-away only, while gyms, hairdressers, community facilities and entertainment venues will all close.
The aim is to have a “hard and fast” approach to lockdown to avoid keeping the state in a suspended state of closure as past lockdowns have done.
“If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier,” said Andrews.
Andrews expects to announce financial support methods as early as Friday, and spoke to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an effort to get clarity around how the federal government will help Victorian businesses and citizens.
National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said it was “Groundhog Day” for Victorian retailers, as they entered the state’s fifth lockdown since the pandemic began.
“Even a short, sharp and successful lockdown can have a giant impact on businesses forced to close,” Lamb said.
“Not only do they forgo revenue for the days they’re unable to trade, but reopening is not like flicking on a light switch – rosters need to be organised, stock needs to be ordered, and protocols need to be implemented.”
Lamb predicted Victorian retailers were likely to lose around $750,000 in turnover during the five-day lockdown, while ARA boss Paul Zahra put the number at closer to $1 billion.
“Victorians have been to hell and back over the past 18 months and lockdowns have sadly become a way of life,” Zahra said.
“The impact will be immense – we estimate another billion dollars’ worth of retail trade is at risk, and many small businesses are past breaking point.”
Zahra noted that, while retailers respect the health orders, with the pandemic stretching on into a new financial year it’s become clear that an accelerated vaccine rollout is the country’s only “ticket to freedom”.
“NSW and Victoria are the engine rooms of the national economy, and with Australia’s two largest states now in lockdown, our pandemic recovery is in a precarious position,” said Zahra.