The owner of Tramsheds and Broadway Sydney is requiring staff to wear masks in all 16 shopping centres it owns across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
Announced by Mirvac on Tuesday, the new rule applies to management, security, cleaners and frontline centre personnel and is meant to encourage safe behaviour as well as reduce the possibility of transmission of the coronavirus.
“We have this important opportunity to lead by example within our communities and help reduce the transmission of Covid-19,” Kelly Miller, general manager of Mirvac Retail, said in a statement.
“There is no more visible way to demonstrate how serious we are at Mirvac Retail centres about promoting proactive safety, hygiene and social distancing measures to keep our customers, retail partners and our teams, safe.”
Currently, face coverings are only required in the state of Victoria, which has been battling a resurgence in new cases of Covid-19 for the past month. Just this week, Premier Daniel Andrews implemented tough new restrictions on businesses and residents in metropolitan Melbourne, including the shutdown of non-essential services and a nightly curfew.
A small but worrying uptick in cases in other parts of the country, however, has led the Australian Retailers’ Association to issue an industry-wide call for retailers to strongly encourage the use of masks in stores located in national hotspots.
“Masks are now a focus globally as an important means of reducing the risk of infection for staff and customers as infections continue to spike,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra.
“We are asking retailers around the country to introduce a store protocol which strongly encourages their use to help us get ahead of the infection rates.”
More than two dozen major retailers have committed to the new protocol, including Wesfarmers’ bricks-and-mortar retail businesses (Bunnings, Officeworks, Kmart, Target), Woolworths (Woolworths Supermarkets, Big W, Dan Murphy’s and BWS) Amazon Australia, Chemist Warehouse, Coles, Costco, Cotton On Group, Country Road, David Jones, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, McDonald’s, Mecca, Myer, Priceline, 7-Eleven, Super Retail Group (Rebel, Super Cheap Auto, MacPac, BCF) and The Good Guys.
Apple has required face coverings in stores globally since May.
Zahra said unless there is a reversal of current infection trends, Australians could expect to see tougher restrictions including mandatory face coverings in states and territories outside of Victoria.
Over the past week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has advised more widespread use of face coverings in the state, including in supermarkets and on public transport. Masks are currently still voluntary in NSW.