3rd August, 2020

Metro-Melbourne business closures under Stage 4 restrictions

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced tighter restrictions for Melbourne-based businesses, with industry-by-industry guidelines.

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews has unveiled a series of tougher restrictions that will impact the way many industries operate.

Ahead of his daily press conference with updates relating to the pandemic, Premier Andrews released an exhaustive list of all industries, detailing which ones were set to remain open, those that were to close down entirely, and those required to scale-back operations significantly.

During the press conference, Andrews confirmed that during the coming six-week period, businesses would need to adhere to a level of closure laid out according to each industry category.

Most notably for small businesses, the Premier announced that, outside of supermarkets, grocery stores and take-away eateries, almost all on-site retailers will be expected to close down.

“Industries where onsite operations will have to cease for the next six weeks including retail, some manufacturing and administration,” Andrews announced.

“These businesses will all need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shutdown safely.”

Delivery and contactless pick-up options were suggested as ways for retailers to avoid complete shutdowns.

These closures include all personal care services, right down to hairdressers, but essential services like locksmiths and laundries were listed as exemptions.

Sole traders will be allowed to continue operating, as long as they do not have contact with the public, or with people other than those persons living in their primary household.

Construction, other sectors move to ‘pilot light’ mode

Andrews also announced there would be a significant scale-back in meatworks across the entire state, with abattoir workers being cut down by a third, and air-tight restrictions across every touchpoint of their work.

Additionally, major scale-backs are set to take place in the construction industry for the duration of this six-week intensive lockdown.

“Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time,” said Andrews.

“Our construction sector, the lifeblood of our economy, will also move to pilot light levels. This will allow the industry to keep ticking — while also making sure we limit the number of people onsite.”

When asked how many people would be stood down from work as a result of these restrictions, Andrews responded with a grim estimate of 250,000.

“These are absolutely heartbreaking decisions,” Andrews said to reporters.

The whole of regional Victoria will move into stage three lockdown measures, which will see the closure of hundreds of cafes, gyms and local retailers across the state.

After the implementation of these restrictions, it is expected that approximately one million workers that would have otherwise been at work, will now be at home.

Grants and support for affected businesses

Today’s announcements also covered the additional measures that the Victorian government will be taking to offer supporting to the affected businesses.

Affected businesses in regional Victoria will be eligible for the State Government’s $5,000 grant payment, and as a result of this extended lockdown time period, businesses in metro-Melbourne that have already received this grant will be entitled to an additional $5,000 payment.

These grants are expected to cost the state government approximately $600 million in total.

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The Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme will also be continuing in its current form until the end of September, giving all impacted industries salary payment relief.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison empathised with Victorians after the release of today’s dramatic announcements.

“I just want all Victorians to know that, here, your Australian Government will continue to stand with you with all the support we can provide, because you will get through this, and we will get through it together once again,” he said.

In an attempt to provide some solace to Victorians out of work, the Prime Minister has dropped the barrier of entry for the Federal Government’s JobSeeker program, suspending all mutual obligation arrangements for Victorians looking to access the scheme’s funding.

Read the full list of industries restricted from operating here.