Mounting pandemic pain for retail with three states in Covid lockdown

Tuesday 20 July 2021

More than $8 billion worth of retail trade is now at risk nationally with the Covid lockdown in Victoria extended for another seven days, mounting the pressure on small businesses who are struggling for survival without an adequate safety net like JobKeeper.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said with South Australia to enter a lockdown from tonight, 68 days of state-imposed lockdowns are now a reality so far in 2021.

“Another day, another state in a Covid lockdown. The financial pain continues to mount for small businesses who were already struggling before these latest outbreaks. The hopes for survival for many are quickly fading without adequate support measures in place,” Mr Zahra said.

“With the Delta variant becoming incredibly difficult to contain, it’s clear that lockdowns are going to be an ongoing feature for the rest of this year when it comes to managing new outbreaks in the community.

“With that being the case, it’s clear we need the return of an effective support scheme like JobKeeper to ensure businesses can stay afloat and connected to their employees.

“Whilst the existing Federal Covid disaster payments are certainly welcomed, they fall short of a liveable income and the arrangements that were in place under the first phase of JobKeeper. This, along with the Leasing Code of Conduct, were major factors keeping businesses alive through the initial phase of the pandemic.

“We need to see these valuable measures return urgently with the Delta variant causing so much disruption to people’s lives and businesses.

“The ARA is repeating its calls for a nationally consistent approach to Covid lockdowns and restrictions. There is still no national definition on what is included in ‘essential’ retail. It differs from state to state and is an absolute nightmare for businesses with a national footprint whose stores are affected in different ways depending on what city they’re in.

“This once again highlights how important it is to expediate Australia’s Covid vaccination program and the retail community stands ready to support this effort in any way it can. Vaccines are the only way we’ll see an end to these sorts of lockdowns and restrictions that are so damaging to businesses and livelihoods.”

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