Retail stores to close and construction curtailed in Melbourne’s stage four restrictions

Regional Victoria

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. AAP/David Crosling.

New restrictions for Victorian businesses have been revealed, with all retail stores and some manufacturing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne to close their doors, and construction sites to operate at a drastically reduced capacity.

Speaking at a long-awaited press conference this afternoon, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the details of how businesses would be affected by the stage four restrictions across the city.

As anticipated, businesses in metropolitan Melbourne have been split into three categories.

1. Closures

All retail stores in metropolitan Melbourne will be closed, along with “some manufacturing” and “some admin” businesses, Andrews said.

E-commerce operators, and retailers that fulfil online sales in-store, will be allowed to continue to trade by offering click-and-collect and delivery services.

Using Bunnings as an example, Andrews said people will no longer be able to enter a store, but will be able to collect goods ordered online, or have the goods delivered.

“But retail will look very different to how it has ever looked,” the Premier said.

As foreshadowed on Sunday, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services only.

Hairdressers and barbers will also need to close.

In a blow to Melbourne parents, childcare centres will be forced to close, with the exception of provisions for the children of essential workers.

Clothing and footwear manufacturing will come to a stop, as well as wood and furniture, textile, leather product and knitted product manufacturing. Manufacturing of domestic appliances will also be halted.

Hotels and other accommodation providers must also close, unless they are part of the Victorian government’s COVID-19 response, for example, by putting up returned overseas travellers, people who are forced to leave their home to self-isolate, or workers in critical sectors. Some accommodation will also be provided for people if their primary place of residence is unsafe.

Other businesses such as call centres, car washes and film processing providers will also close.

The new stage four restrictions will come into effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

See below for a full list.

2. Reduced output

Some businesses have been instructed to operate with reduced output. These businesses will remain open but will “look very different”, Andrews said.

Meatworks

Abattoirs and meat processing businesses will move to two-thirds of their production capacity, and workers will have to dress in full protective gear, to the same extent as health workers do.

Employees will also have their temperature taken on arrival, and will have frequent COVID-19 tests.

This is “a proportionate response” to the risks in this industry, Andrews said.

These changes will come into effect from 11.59pm on Friday. This is the only measure that relates to the whole of Victoria, rather than just metropolitan Melbourne.

Construction

Andrews also announced new restrictions in the construction industry, “which is in many ways the lifeblood of the Victorian economy”.

Government construction projects have already reduced their workforce by about 50%, he said.

Now, for large commercial building projects, if above three stories, sites will have to operate with a “practical minimum” workforce. That must be no more than 25% of the usual workforce.

For smaller, residential building projects, sites must have no more than five people on-site at any one time.

The construction industry is moving to a “pilot light phase,” Andrews said.

“They are not being turned off completely but they are dramatically reducing the number of people working for them.”

Elsewhere, businesses including warehouses, distribution centres, cold storage centres and aged care facilities may remain open, but with enhanced obligations and a ‘high-risk COVIDSafe plan’.

Some restricted residential and commercial activities will be able to continue. If a service was booked before 5pm on August 3, and will be conducted before 5pm on August 17, and is essential to a person’s livelihood or wellbeing, it may go ahead.

3. Business as usual

Finally, grocery stores, takeaway food outlets and other essential services are permitted to open as usual.

These include:

  • Supermarkets;
  • Grocery stores;
  • Bottle shops;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Petrol stations;
  • Banks;
  • Newsagencies;
  • Post offices;
  • Local stores such as butchers and bakers;
  • Disability, mobility and health equipment;
  • Maternity supplies; and
  • Motor vehicle parts for emergency repairs.

Andrews specifically urged against panic-buying.

“We’re confident with them remaining open … we can still have everything people need,” he said.

In addition, farming, commercial fishing and other agricultural activities may continue, and veterinary clinics and services may continue to operate, along with animal shelters.

Meals-on-wheels and essential home-care support providers can also continue to operate.

Other essential businesses, including locksmiths, laundries and dry cleaners and essential vehicle repair and maintenance, are also allowed to operate.

Manufacturing of essentials, such as food and beverages, sanitary products and equipment to support construction, is still allowed.

Businesses conducting critical repairs to residential properties are also still permitted.

$5,000 for small businesses

In terms of support for Victorian businesses, those outside of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire that are now closing their doors for a second time and moving into stage three restrictions, will be eligible for a $5,000 grant from the Business Support Fund.

Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, that have already received the $5,000 grant funding, will be eligible for a second cash boost, for a total grant of $10,000.

Businesses can apply for the grant funding here.

“It will finish up being in aggregate terms first- and second-wave payments in the order of $20,000 together with a number of other waivers of taxes and charges, and for some businesses — many businesses — all of those really significant payroll tax refunds, we are able to return to those businesses money three quarterly payments that they had made to us prior to the first wave,” Andrews said.

“That package is in the order of about $600 million.”

The Premier didn’t rule out providing additional support for businesses, but said this will be a “shared responsibility” between the state and federal governments.

Sole traders will still not be eligible for the cash grants. However, again, the Premier did not rule out additional support in the future.

There were no further details as to whether JobKeeper and JobSeeker support might continue at the higher rate past the end of September.

The changes to the retail, meat processing and construction industries mean approximately a further 250,000 people will be stood down, or lose their jobs altogether, Andrews said.

Stopping those people from moving around the community is directly related to the “mystery cases” of coronavirus, or those caused by community transmission that cannot be tracked to an existing cluster.

“Unless we have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people at home … We will not see those numbers reduced,” he said.

“While I never thought I would be telling people not to go to work, that is what we have to do.”

The new restrictions come as Victoria records another 429 new cases of coronavirus today, and sadly 13 more deaths.

Further, 69 cases have been added to the ‘community transmission’ tally, meaning no source of the original infection could be found.

Numbers also include further growth in cases outside of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

Andrews also admitted the new rules will likely need some fine-tuning and said additional announcements will be made over the next few days.

Industries that must close

Non-essential retail
Furniture manufacturing
Clothing and footwear manufacturing
Textile, leather product and knitted product manufacturing
Domestic appliance manufacturing
Transfer stations (to the public)
Wholesale trading, unrelated to food and medical supplies
Personal care services including hairdressers
Photographic film processing
Car washes
Accommodation (except when used for the government’s COVID-19 response
Pubs, taverns and bars
Clubs
Nightclubs
Food courts
Sightseeing tours
Book publishing
Software publishing
Film and sound recording
Libraries and other information services
Non-critical banking and finance services
Rental services (except for permitted industries)
Property and real estate services
Architectural and engineering services
Legal and accounting services
Advertising and market research services
Professional photography
Employment services
Travel agency and tour services
Credit reporting
Debt collection
Call centres
Early education and childcare centres
Primary, secondary and tertiary education
Adult and community education
Non-urgent elective surgery
Museums
Parks and gardens operations
Creative and performing arts activities
Sports and recreation activities
Gambling
Alpine resorts
Parking services
Sex work services
Civic groups
Religious services and places of worship
Forestry and logging
Mining exploration

Industries that may continue with reduced output and increased restrictions

Construction (details above)
Warehousing
Distribution centres
Meat processing (details above)
Cold storage
Aged care
Polymer and rubber production and manufacturing
Basic chemical and metal product manufacturing
Shopping centres, for access to permitted retail only
Food markets, with strict density restrictions
Hardware, building and garden supplies (tradespeople only)
Retail, for click-and-collect and delivery
Public transport (reduced timetables)
Rideshare and taxis, to support permitted activities
Horse racing, harness racing and greyhound racing, and animal care
Some residential services
Community facilities such as food banks

Industries that may continue, with a COVIDSafe plan in place

Forestry for production of firewood, construction or other permitted activities
Farming
Commercial fishing
Agricultural production or support
Animal saleyards and transport
Animal feed production
Veterinary clinics
Animal shelters
Coal and metal ore mining
Oil and gas extraction
Petrol production
Food and beverage product manufacturing
Manufacturing of essentials, including coffins and caskets, paper, sanitary products, specialised machinery, transport equipment and goods to support construction
Electricity, gas and water supply services
Critical repairs to residential premises
Grocery, liquor and tobacco product wholesaling
Essential retail (as listed above)
Laundries and dry cleaners
Locksmiths
Cafes and restaurants (take-away and delivery only)
University and residential college accommodation services
Meals on wheels aged care support
Essential home support for aged care services
Vehicle repair, service and maintenance
Freight transport services
Newspaper and magazine publishing
TV and radio broadcasting
Farm animal leasing
Medical research
Public administration
Justice and correctional services
Other essential community healthcare services
Essential maintenance of public spaces

NOW READ: Labor calls for more JobKeeper support for Victorian businesses, as stage-four restrictions come into play

NOW READ: More Australian workers could be granted paid pandemic leave

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