Many businesses across Australia will be forced to shut their doors from 12 p.m. on Monday, March 23, when the Federal Government’s latest measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic take effect. Pubs, hotels, cinemas, casinos, night clubs and other entertainment venues, as well as religious gatherings and places of worship, will be restricted from opening, while restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and home delivery services only.
Australians should expect these measures to be in place for the next six months, according to a statement released by the Morrison Government after a National Cabinet meeting on Sunday evening. This is in addition to the existing ban on all non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and 4 sqm-per-person rule that are already in effect, among other restrictions.
These measures do not go as far as the shutdown of all non-essential services that the NSW, Victorian and ACT Governments announced on Sunday afternoon, prior to the meeting.
Statements released by NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and ACT chief Minister Andrew Barr said supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, petrol stations and freight and logistics would remain open, but beyond this, they did not specify which types of businesses are considered “non-essential”. The national employer association has called for a broad and consistent definition of essential services.
“As we inevitably move towards shutting down parts of our economy to deal with the health threat of coronavirus, it is vital that the designation of essential services is appropriately broad and includes the supply chains necessary to allow those essential services to continue to operate,” Innes Willox, CEO of Ai Group, said in a statement. “The definition of essential services also needs to be coordinated on a national basis.”
The NSW, Victorian and ACT Governments said they would commence their shutdowns over the next 48 hours. Following the announcement of the Morrison Government on Sunday evening, the status of those shutdowns is unclear at this time. However, some retailers, including Patagonia and Fjallraven have already decided to close stores for the safety of their customers and staff.
Inside FMCG will update this story as more information becomes available.