“Won’t be heavy-handed”: Andrews reassures small businesses on stage four lockdown

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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Source: AAP/James Ross.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has sought to quell business concern about stage four trading restrictions, saying authorities won’t employ a heavy-handed approach to those who break the rules inadvertently.

As business owners across Melbourne prepare to shut their shops ahead of tougher COVID-19 restrictions coming into effect later this week, Andrews acknowledged the rules would be complex to deal with.

“There’s an enormous amount of work still going on right now and it will continue through the night, into tomorrow, and perhaps even beyond then.

“[We want] to make sure that we’ve got as much clarity as you can ever possibly have when you’re doing things for the very first time in really complex circumstances,” he said.

“There won’t be a heavy-handed approach …if they [businesses] make a genuine error, we’ll work with them to make sure that doesn’t happen a second time but the rules are there for all of us.”

“We’re not going to be fining businesses who have made a genuine attempt to do the right thing,” Andrews said.

Businesses face fines upwards of $200,000 if they’re caught breaching public health orders by failing to report COVID-19 cases in their workplaces, and further penalties if they fail to comply with trading restrictions.

The Andrews government has been under pressure to release more details about the latest round of regulations brought in to curb the spread of coronavirus on Sunday.

In addition to forced shutdowns for many, businesses will be required to develop and implement COVIDSafe business plans by Friday, while e-commerce deliveries will need to comply with strict new requirements, which are yet to be detailed.

Andrews said calls to Victoria’s business hotline have increased over the last 24 hours, asking business owners to be patient with the government as it works through the finer details.

“I would just say to all businesses, large and small, thank you so much for your patience as we work through these issues,” he said.

“This has never been done before and whilst we’d all love to have every answer to every question at one point in time, I think people appreciate that this does need to develop over time.”

Additionally, staff travelling around Melbourne for their jobs will be required to have permission slips from their employers confirming they’re actively engaged in their work.

Andrews said officials will circulate forms on Tuesday afternoon for businesses to fill out, but said the rules would employ “old-fashioned common sense”.

“It’s a piece of paper. Your employer fills it out. They sign it. You sign it. You carry it with you and then you’re able to demonstrate so there’s not a sense of anxiety or a sense of having to tell your story 17 times,” Andrews said.

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

NOW READ: E-commerce more important than ever — but there’s a “gap in information” for Melbourne retailers

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