Mr Andrews said he would announce an easing of restrictions on Sunday, 18 October, but also confirmed it would not implement the entirety of step 3 of its reopening plan at the earliest possible date of 19 October.
In an open letter to Mr Andrews, Council of Small Business Organisation Australia (COSBOA) chief executive Peter Strong called for a meeting to discuss a plan to reopen Victorian businesses in a COVID-safe way.
Mr Strong noted that COSBOA members have reported that many small businesses and their customers believe they will be able to reopen on 19 October, and that there is great concern for what will happen if this does not occur.
He also pointed out that Victoria has now achieved similar transmission rates to New South Wales, where many businesses in sectors such as retail, hospitality, hairdressing, and traditional medicine are allowed to open, and where there is a greater sense of normalcy, while businesses in Victoria are still yet to be given a date for reopening.
Mr Strong also said there was widespread frustration among industry associations due to lack of meaningful consultation with the Victorian government.
“What we’re asking for is to talk to the Premier as soon as possible about a careful, staged reopening of businesses. We’ve already done it safely in other states, so most industry sectors have plans and procedures that are ready to go,” Mr Strong said.
“If he doesn’t want to discuss reopening, then we’re going to ask the Premier if we can see his government’s plan to manage all the unemployment and poverty that’s going to increase in Victoria from continuing the lockdown.
“COSBOA members are saying again and again that many small businesses in Melbourne — whether they be restaurants, bookshops or hair salons — will not make it through the first quarter of 2021 if they are not able to trade during November and December, the busiest time of year. Some sectors are also worried about losing staff to the black market.
“At the moment, small-business people are feeling powerless and unable to plan for even the near-term future. We need to change this.”
You can read COSBOA’s full letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews by clicking here.