Businesses in Victoria will enter their fourth coronavirus lockdown from midnight tonight, as a cluster in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs grows to 26 cases.
The Victorian government announced a seven-day circuit breaker lockdown from 11:59 pm Thursday, May 27, to 11:59pm Thursday, June 5, at a press conference this morning.
Essential shops like supermarkets, food stores, bottle shops, banks, petrol stations and pharmacies will remain open. However, cafes and restaurants will only be able to offer take away.
Gyms, hairdressers and entertainment venues will all close and non-essential retail may only open for click-and-collect services.
‘Dramatic’ for businesses
Avi Efrat, owner of Fantastic Framing in St Kilda and Kew, says another lockdown will dramatically affect his business, resulting in about $10,000 of lost turnover over one week.
“It will affect us dramatically,” Efrat tells SmartCompany.
“First of all, in the mood of the staff and then the income of the company,” he says.
Fantastic Framing has six bricks-and-mortar stores across Australia with two located in Melbourne. It also offers an online framing service and sells artwork at its sister e-store Art Buy.
“In a month, I would lose about $40,000 to $50,000,” he says.
The fact that businesses in Victoria have endured more lockdowns compared to those in any other state is a sign the state government’s approach is not effective, Efrat says.
“I think it’s an exaggeration, people need to take precautions but when you look at Sydney, you see that you can close an area, you don’t need to close all of Melbourne,” he says.
Damage to mental health
Xero’s Australian Small Business Index, which analyses sales, jobs growth, payment times and wages, declined 10 points during April to 121. While the results show that overall performance of small businesses declined, the index is still around historically high levels.
However, data by Xero released in February found even Victoria’s five-day lockdown affected jobs growth and revenue.
“There was an immediate fall in jobs as non-salaried staff in closed businesses did not receive a payslip for the lockdown period,” Xero found.
Adir Shiffman, Melbourne-based entrepreneur who has founded more than 10 businesses, says the lockdown is ‘ironic’ because the recent budget included a payroll tax levy to fund mental health services.
“The deep irony is that you lock people down, you damage their mental health and you damage business, and all of this happens a week after passing budget measures that tax businesses to support mental health,” he says.
Shiffman says the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has consistently said she fights to avoid lockdowns because of their damage to businesses and people’s mental health.
“There is just a fundamental attitudinal difference between the approach of the NSW premier and government and what happens in Victoria,” he adds.
“And everything cascades from that fundamental difference in outlook.”
Victoria’s health department recorded 11 new local cases of COVID-19 overnight, bringing the outbreak to a total of 26 cases.
Contact tracers have identified about 80 primary exposure sites, including many gyms, cafes, bars and restaurants. Larger venues, such as supermarkets, Docklands Stadium and the MCG, are also on the list of exposure sites.