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Relief, despair mount as Melbourne retailers get green light for November 2

Melbourne Premier Dan Andrews announced a number of relief measures to locked-up Melbournians on Sunday, including the date retailers, and other businesses, will be able to open doors to the public: Monday, November 2.

Hairdressers, however, are able to reopen from today.

According to Andrews, this date was selected based on the current advice of the Melbourne Government’s public health team and will see the first step out of a “stay home” mentality to a “stay safe” one.

ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said the announcement would bring relief to retailers off the back of months of shutdown and advocacy for a reopening.

“Whilst this date is many weeks later than we would have hoped, it is just in time for the official start of the Christmas shopping period and a very welcome news for retailers who have been desperately seeking clarity for months,” said Zahra.

“Every day we get closer to Christmas creates a challenge to retailers in managing pent up demand and crowds. Not only are businesses needing to prepare for any Covid-related measures, they will also be getting ready for Christmas, which potentially hiring extra workers and ordering and merchandising new inventory.”

And after months of this pent up demand building the pressure will be on, with a quarter of Christmas retail coming from Victoria.

However, Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott said there is “no sound reason” to continue restrictions on businesses.

“This is an inexplicable and unacceptable delay for Victorians and small businesses who are hanging on by a day, not a week,” said Westacott.

“Adopting a wait and see approach to easing restrictions is not an answer for people who face a bleak Christmas and businesses that are trying to get back up and running… simply being allowed to go for a haircut or outside a bit more when you have no job, no money and your business has failed is just not good enough.”

Westacott urged the government to end trading off health, social and economic recovery and find a solution that delivers on all fronts – stating that NSW has demonstrated a sensible middle ground that allows people to live, work, and go to school alongside the virus.

And, according to Westacott, business leaders have not yet been approached to help consult on how the industry can work together with the government to reopen the economy faster.

“Across the rest of the country, business is helping drive practical solutions, such as enhanced digital tracking and tracing, to keep workers and customers safe,” Westacott said.

“Business, which is the lifeblood of the community, faces a bleak Christmas unless there is a clear, decisive and evidence-based plan that gets Victoria moving again. We did not see that [on Sunday].’’

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