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Victorian businesses left on edge amid reopening uncertainty

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
13 October 2020 2 minute readShare
Daniel Andrews

The Victorian government is under pressure to revise its reopening schedule as the state is unlikely to reach the next step of its plan by next week and businesses face continued uncertainty during current lockdown arrangements.

Under step 3 of the current Victorian roadmap for reopening the economy, businesses in major industries can reopen and resume operations.

This is dependent on whether the daily average number of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days is fewer than five statewide, and there are fewer than five cases with an unknown source in the last 14 days.

As of 13 October, the current 14-day rolling average is 10, with 13 cases with an unknown source. In regional Victoria, the 14-day rolling average is 0.4, with zero cases with an unknown source.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he would announce an easing of restrictions on Sunday, 18 October, in a safe manner, but also confirmed it would not implement the entirety of step 3 of its reopening plan at the earliest possible date of 19 October.

“The advice is that would not be safe. We will, however, choose those items on that list of things proposed to happen this coming Sunday. Those that are safe, we will proceed with,” Mr Andrews said.

“And there may be some others that we believe are safe that were not necessarily foreshadowed at that time. This is a changing thing. I know that’s frustrating.”

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it’s really unfortunate that Mr Andrews keeps “turning the screws” while the number of COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the state.

“I think people are fed up and I think people want to hear about the lifting of the restrictions, of course, in a COVID-safe way, but they shouldn’t be kept being strung along like they have been,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“I think it’s time that Daniel Andrews really got on with it, lifted the restrictions and allowed Victorians to get back to a COVID-safe normal life.”

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra expressed disappointment that the Victorian government was yet to confirm whether it will allow the reopening of retail businesses on 19 October, saying high expectations were set for the reopening date by recently announcing a new date of 19 October ahead of the original 26 October date.

He said today’s update from Mr Andrews has dashed all hopes for that timing. 

“This is a serious blow to Victorian retailers who were led to believe they could open next week and get ready for the Christmas rush,” Mr Zahra said.

“Beyond the disappointment, we are also gravely concerned by the fact we have not seen any specific plan that will guide retailers through the restart process.

“Most retail workers have face-to-face interactions with their customers, so it is imperative that they have a full understanding of any additional COVID protocols that maybe currently being contemplated.

“And with Christmas 10 weeks away, additional time and planning is also necessary to physically prepare the stores for the critically important holiday trading period.”

However, Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said the current uncertainty reflects “the reality of the virus”, and that the department has to make judgements about the number of mystery cases emerging in the state.

“The fact that we’re reviewing the case numbers every single day is an important thing Victorians would expect of us, that we make judgements about where were at so were not taking unreasonable risk that were going back to restrictions or needing to reimpose,” Mr Sutton said.

“Theres no question theres frustration. Theres no question that people are hurt and harmed by the restrictions that have been in place, but the roadmap is laying out a pathway to easier and easier ways of living it at the same time as managing case numbers.”

To view the current Victorian reopening roadmap by industry, click here.

Victorian businesses left on edge amid reopening uncertainty
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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