Victorian retailers have slammed Premier Daniel Andrews for “ignoring” businesses in his announcement of major changes to restrictions.
Mr Andrews announced long-awaited adjustments to Melbourne’s lockdown measures today, including scrapping time limits for exercise and social activities, the extension of travel restrictions from 5km to 25km and the reopening of tennis clubs, outdoor pools, hairdressers and the real estate industry.
Even bigger freedoms are pegged for November 1 if coronavirus cases continue to move in a positive direction.
Victorian Premier said residents should be “optimistic”, promising not just a COVID-safe summer but a COVID-normal 2021.
However, not everyone’s impressed – with Mr Andrews accused of “ignoring” businesses that hoped for reprieve before the end of the month.
One reporter noted that some businesses say they won’t be able to survive for another two weeks.
“Why are you ignoring them?” the reporter asked.
But Mr Andrews said it wasn’t safe to relax restrictions further.
“I’ve said this to you many times and indeed to all of you and I will say to every Victorian, you cannot fix the economy and repair the damage that this virus has done to the economy until you deal with the virus,” the Premier told reporters today.
“To go further than we have announced today is not safe and every person in business who is not pleased, well, these are not, no-one is enjoying this, it is not like we have made a decision and we had all of these perfectly equal options and we chose one rather than the other. No, that is not what we have done.
“We will get you open when it is safe to be open. For you, for your staff, for your customers and for every single Victorian.”
The Australian Retailers Association said the plan to reopen stores on November 2 was an “enormous relief” but others haven’t been quite as pleased.
Chapel Street Precinct general manager Chrissie Maus has slammed the decision to delay for another fortnight, calling it “an unjust joke”.
“This is no longer acceptable or sustainable for our businesses,” she said.
“I would have rather kept the 5km limit and the shops opened.”
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Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott said there was no point easing social restrictions and extending the 5km rule if nothing was allowed to open.
“This is an inexplicable and unacceptable day for Victorians and small businesses who are hanging on a by a day, not a week,” she said.
“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.”