Melbourne re-opens as first set of lockdown restrictions eased

By Sarah Stowe | 19 Oct 2020 View comments

Melbourne re-opens, a little at least, as Premier Daniel Andrews announced the easing of some restrictions.

From midnight last night hairdressers were able to open their doors, and outdoor home services able to restart their businesses. Tennis and golf are now allowed.

However retailers and other businesses will need to wait two more weeks before welcoming the public on  Monday, November 2.

The pace of eased restrictions is following current advice from the Melbourne Government’s public health team.

Mary Aldred, Franchise Council of Australia CEO, said the organisation is pleased to see outdoor home services with a Covid-safe plan return to work.

“Many of these sole traders and small business operators are at the brink of collapse and desperately need to return to work,” she said.

In addition to business openings, the limit on movement has been extended from 5km to 25km.

“The FCA had called for the 5km buffer zone to be extended in distance, and welcomes this as a first step to retail welcoming customers taking away and from November having limited dine in,” said Aldred.

However she points to the “invisible border” between Melbourne and regional Victoria which remain in place.

“The long-term damage needs to be considered. Regional Victoria has been hit hard by drought, bushfires and Covid-19. Many of these communities rely on tourism as a key economic driver. Country communities need to be able to safely welcome visitors to restart local economies,” she said.

Aldred said the FCA was consulted about how much time it would take for food, retail and hospitality businesses to prepare for a safe reopening.

“While these businesses are diverse in their operations, all have comprehensive Covid-safe plans already in place. The FCA would have preferred this reopening date to be brought forward far sooner than the two weeks announced.

“Retail’s most critical trading period commences three months before Christmas. Retail businesses need be able to fully reopen through this period to have every chance of surviving this pandemic.”

According to Inside Retail, ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said the retail sector welcomed the news of a reopening date.

“Whilst this date is many weeks later than we would have hoped, it is just in time for the official start of the Christmas shopping period and a very welcome news for retailers who have been desperately seeking clarity for months,” said Zahra.

Inside Retail also reported that Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott said there is “no sound reason” to continue restrictions on businesses.

“This is an inexplicable and unacceptable delay for Victorians and small businesses who are hanging on by a day, not a week,” said Westacott.

Check the full update on Covid-restrictions here.