Victoria’s business community has reacted to the state’s new seven-day lockdown with anger and dismay, highlighting that this is the first time that businesses no longer have JobKeeper support payments available to them.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has called the lockdown, which came into effect from midnight on Thursday, a devastating blow for retailers, as well as for consumer and business confidence. The ARA said it again highlights that the threat of Covid is far from over.
CEO Paul Zahra said the closure was set to cost over a billion dollars in terms of lost retail trade in the state.
“We support the Victorian Government in their response to keep the community safe, but we can’t ignore the significant impact this lockdown will have on retailers, the Melbourne CBD, and small businesses in particular,” Zahra commented.
‘We thought the worst of Covid was behind us’
“Victorians have been to hell and back over the past year or so, and just when we thought the worst of Covid was behind us, it’s reared its head again mid-year.
“Businesses no longer have JobKeeper support payments available to them and Victorian small businesses in particular will be under significant stress – this is a huge blow to their confidence.”
Zahra said the cost would be social as well as financial. The lockdown would have an enormous impact on people’s health and wellbeing, as well as shatter fragile confidence levels for the second half of the year.
It would also set back the “valiant efforts” of State and local government to restore confidence and foot traffic within Melbourne’s hard-hit CBD.
Call for focused efforts to boost vaccinations
The ARA has called for focused efforts to bolster vaccinations and improve contact tracing within Victoria, along with targeted support to continue for small business and Melbourne’s central business district.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said it stands ready to help any business affected by the shutdowns and invited them to contact the Chamber to access support.
“This lockdown will break some businesses, no doubt about it,” observed the organisation’s Chief Executive, Paul Guerra.
“So many were just hanging on by a thread and that thread has now been severed. The cost is not only monetary; there’s also the huge cost of jobs, confidence and reputation. We have taken a massive hit today about how we will be viewed on a national scale.”