Business needs National Cabinet to deliver updated Roadmap tomorrow

Tomorrow will be the best remaining chance for National Cabinet to agree to an updated Roadmap for reopening Australia so businesses can trade successfully during the peak December period and people can travel and reconnect with families for Christmas.

ACCI urges the governments at National Cabinet to release their plans for how border, travel and gathering restrictions will be eased over coming weeks as we aim for COVID Normal, in order to save businesses and the jobs they provide.

“Tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting could be the last meaningful opportunity for political leaders to re-open Australia in time for businesses to benefit from the busiest trading month of the year,” ACCI CEO James Pearson said.

“October is the tenth month but this meeting of National Cabinet comes at the eleventh hour. We need a Roadmap now, for opening up by December, so businesses can plan to re-hire people and order supplies in a calm and orderly way, and not be caught in a last-minute scramble to be ready for pent-up pre-Christmas peak demand.

“The next National Cabinet meeting might be too late.

“In the case of tourism and hospitality, two of the sectors hit hardest and first in this recession, restrictions must be eased for the critical trading period of December to allow bookings for Christmas and school holidays to go ahead with some certainty.

“Latest hotel occupancy data for last week supplied by our members shows the rates in capital cities are diabolical compared to the previous week last year: Sydney is down by more than 60 per cent, Canberra and the Gold Coast about 50%, Adelaide more than 40% and Melbourne is a staggering 71% worse than for the same week in 2019.

“Hotels that normally run on occupancies over 80% cannot continue to survive on occupancy rates in a 25 to 40% range.”

The Roadmap will be critical in facilitating the supply and demand of goods and services over the period, Mr Pearson said.

“Businesses require clear, coherent and timely guidance regarding border-measures, hotspots and procedures. Ad-hoc and inconsistent decisions do not provide the certainty, confidence and transparency that business need in order to plan, prepare and meet consumer expectations going into December.

“Digital technologies, standardised paperless procedures, bolstered testing and tracing capabilities, and appropriate quarantine processes are key to allowing the safe movement of goods and people across the country, as well as continuous improvement in the exchange of data between jurisdictions, to enhance the prompt response to outbreaks.

“Hard lockdowns across entire cities and closed state borders are blunt tools that are not fit for purpose at a time when community transmission has been brought under control and businesses, jobs and livelihoods are on the line.

“An updated National roadmap is the tool that we need from tomorrow’s meeting to provide business confidence through a nationally coordinated plan for easing restrictions and opening up borders and travel.”

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