The Business Council of Australia’s chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the Victorian government’s decision on Sunday was an “an inexplicable and unacceptable delay” for business owners and customers.
“Adopting a wait and see approach to easing restrictions is not an answer for people who face a bleak Christmas and businesses that are trying to get back up and running,” she said in a statement.
“For businesses, it is now a day to day proposition, not a week to week one, whether they remain viable or close their doors forever.
“There is no sound reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with case numbers clearly on a downward trajectory.”
There will be some loosening for workplaces from Monday, permitted groups of up to five workers will be able return to onsite work for certain low risk, outdoor roles, including non-essential home repairs, car washing, pet grooming, photography and solar power installation.
“The roadmap to recovery was always a maze that has now been turned into a long and winding road,” Australian Industry Group’s Victorian head Tim Piper said.
“The longer Victorian businesses are kept closed the greater the potential for deep economic and health damage across the state.
“Today’s announcements are plodding steps in the right direction. Victorian businesses and all Victorians expected and required more than they were given today.”
Gyms remain closed, but from November 2, fitness and dance classes will be able to take place outdoors for a maximum of 10 people, not including the trainer.
Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia chief executive Peter Strong said in a statement that the Premier and Victorian government “obviously have no experience with business” after Sunday’s announcement.
“They seem to think that a business owner will just turn the key to their business and things will start as they did before while magically being COVID safe,” he said.
“We are extremely disappointed by the lack of understanding of the impact on small business people and their employees and customers … If normal means having hundreds of thousands of unemployed people then it is a normal that we do not want.”
From Monday, poultry processing facilities will increase the daily total workforce capacity to 90 per cent across all of Victoria, while abattoirs and meat processing facilities will increase the daily total workforce capacity to 80 per cent for metropolitan Melbourne and 90 per cent for regional Victoria.
Rules for hospitality business in regional Victoria will ease to allow to 40 customers indoors and up to 70 people outdoors from Monday, but Australian Hotels Association president David Canny blasted the plan as still providing insufficient relief.
“Victoria’s pubs and hotels are bitterly disappointed by today’s announcement of further delays to reopen,” he tweeted on Sunday.
“No balance between health and business survival- we are being left behind the rest of the country-federal government must intervene – we are COVIDSafe to open.”
Traders from one of Melbourne’s most well-known shopping strips are said to be in a “cloud of anger” following Sunday’s announcements.
Chrissie Maus, general manager of the Chapel Street Precinct said in a statement “the fact retail and hospitality is still left waiting ‘til potentially November is an unjust joke”.
“It seems the rest of the country is evolving in their policies but Dan continues on his draconian parade,” she said.
“We must learn to live with the virus and open our businesses up now! The mental health impact on our business owners and staff is now doing more damage than some realise.”
Chairperson of the shopping precinct and Print Express owner, Justin O’Donnell, called on Mr Andrews to lift the restrictions on traders immediately and “not make us wait for more harrowing days”.
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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