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SA trading restrictions prompt calls for “national consistency”

The devastating delta strain of the Covid-19 virus has caused a third state to enter a form of lockdown, with South Australian Premier Steve Marshall announcing new restrictions on Monday evening – alongside an extension to Victoria’s initial five-day lockdown – prompting calls for a nationally consistent approach when it comes to restrictions.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the sudden closure of non-essential retail will be devastating to the industry in SA.

“We estimate $250 million worth of retail trade in South Australia is at risk due to the new restrictions that will be in place until Friday,” Zahra said.

“[We’re] once again calling for a national approach… there’s too many inconsistencies across the states and territories whenever new restrictions are put in place.

“We still don’t have a clear definition of ‘essential retail’ which just adds to the confusion for businesses and consumers.”

According to Zahra the current approach to restrictions, where each state determines what is necessary for their particular circumstances, is putting unnecessary strain on the business community and is creating “pain and chaos” for businesses with a national footprint.

And, as noted yesterday by a consortium of industry representatives, states need to do more to police the restrictions they do put in place – with customer aggression toward retail workers on the up for trying to enforce mask mandates and social distancing etiquette.

“Retail businesses and their employees are operating under a particularly stressful environment and customers need to comply with all protocols when entering a store and [be] respectful towards staff,” said National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb.

“It’s critical that everyone plays their part when visiting stores to uphold safety standards.”

As it stands, lockdown is set to end in New South Wales on July 30, South Australia’s restrictions are set to be reviewed on Friday, July 23, and Victoria’s lockdown has been extended with no current end-date.

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