Mobile franchisees and Covid-19 restrictions: debate continues to rage

By Sarah Stowe | 14 Sep 2020 View comments

Calls for the Victorian Government to review its industry-based Covid restrictions continue to come from the franchise sector.

There was initial confusion about who could and could not operate under the Stage 4 lockdown and last month pool operators pleaded their case on health and safety issues, citing stagnant pool water as a health hazard.

Now it’s the turn of mobile pet groomers to raise the case that business can be conducted in a Covid-safe way.

The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced that retail based dog grooming could operate from 28 September 2020, as long as Covid-19 cases continue to decline. However mobile dog grooming is not included in the back-to-work measure.

Franchisors Paul and Megan Walters at Aussie Pooch Mobile, and Blue Wheelers franchisors Martin and Janie Rose, have joined forces to call for a reassessment of the mobile grooming sector.

In a statement, they said “On behalf of not only our own joined team of 60 groomers members within the state of Victoria, but also on behalf of every small business owner who operates as a mobile groomer, we call on the Victorian Government to urgently reassess their decision on this matter.”

The groomers believe the Victorian government has failed to consider transmission issues and social distancing challenges in retail grooming salons, which are permitted to operate.

In contrast a mobile operator in one vehicle cares for up to 10 pets a day, without any personal contact, the statement points out.

Following the roadmap

Recently Jim’s Group founder Jim Penman has been vocal in his criticism of the Victorian Government’s tactics, telling the Today program, “Our industry is no threat to public health at all. A lone operator working alone in a garden is no threat to health.”

However V.I.P. Home Services disagrees. The franchisor has joined the debate about getting back to work, but this time in favour of following recommendations.

Victoria’s regional manager, Glen Glanvill, said “V.I.P. and I know that our franchisees are hurting. But that’s no excuse for doing the wrong thing. This is a time when all Australians need to work together, because we are all in this together. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has been affected, one way or another.

“To say there’s no contact so let’s keep mowing lawns? It’s not about the lawn mowing or the cleaning. V.I.P. franchisees have been extremely diligent in keeping up Covid-safe practices while working, implementing strict social distancing, contactless payment and wearing necessary PPE to name a few.

“It’s not about the job itself, it’s about movement around Melbourne and the movement between jobs. Franchisees who are out mowing lawns are filling up their cars with petrol, are going into a deli to get lunch, are buying supplies from the hardware store, and more. They are coming in contact with others. That’s what this lockdown is about — reducing movement, staying home.”

One sector that has had success in challenging back-to-work rules is the fitness industry.

Fitness Australia has received confirmation that gyms and fitness facilities will reopen from Monday 26 October with certain restrictions in place provided key trigger points are met, while regional Victoria facilities may be able to reopen earlier subject to trigger points and public health advice.

Fitness Australia’s CEO Barrie Elvish said “Although the restrictions are still to be determined Fitness Australia also welcomed the verbal confirmation we received that the industry will be engaged to develop protocols and procedures for reopening and we are looking forward to working with the Victorian Government in coming weeks.”