Australia’s battle with the Delta variant of Covid-19 is continuing to shut businesses down, with the state of Victoria re-entering lockdown, rejoining New South Wales and Queensland in shutting non-essential retail and restricting citizens movements in light of surging cases.
Victoria’s state premier Dan Andrews said he would have preferred to wait to reintroduce restrictions, but that, as seen in Sydney’s case, they only get one chance to act before the more infectious strain gets away from health experts.
The restrictions, which were also extended by NSW’s state government to the Hunter Valley region yesterday, could very well be a knock-out blow for “battle-weary” businesses that are already on the brink of financial collapse, said Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra, and have, once again, been turned off like a light switch.
“The sad reality is that whilst vaccination rates remain low, lockdowns are the only weapon we have to contain the Delta variant from spreading far and wide throughout our communities,” Zahra said.
“A state-wide lockdown in Victoria puts around a billion dollars’ worth of retail trade at risk, [but] what’s equally as damaging is the emotional cost, with Victorians only recently emerging from their last lockdown.”
National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb urged Australians to do their part and get vaccinated.
“We now have Australia’s three largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – all in lockdown,” Lamb said.
“We need every Australian to do their part so we can put an end to this cycle of openings and closings and allow local small businesses to simply get on with employing local people and serving their customers.
“The message of retailers today is very clear – please roll up your sleeves for your local small business.”
The cycle of sudden snap lockdowns and restrictions seems to be weighing on the public, however, with anti-lockdown protests in Victoria overnight following the announcement echoing those seen in Sydney last month.
Shoppers are apparently also struggling to utilise QR codes and wear masks when entering supermarkets around the country, with a joint statement by Aldi, Coles, Foodworks, IGA and Woolworths this week pleading with the public to follow the health orders and to stop abusing their staff.
“Thousands of your fellow Australians work tirelessly in our stores every day and we ask that you are kind and treat these dedicated people with the courtesy and respect they deserve,” the statement, posted on Instagram and seen by 7news, reads.
“No-one working or shopping in any of our stores should experience abusive or aggressive behaviour.”