Retailers welcome Covid roadmap, lockdowns as ‘last resort’

Friday 2 July 2021

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has welcomed the commitment of National Cabinet for lockdowns to be used as a ‘last resort’ as part of a roadmap through the ongoing Covid pandemic.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the roadmap has been a long time coming, and something the ARA has championed for months.

“Lockdowns are not long-term sustainable solutions for businesses when it comes to containing the virus. We have to learn to live with Covid and manage things in a responsible way that doesn’t decimate people’s businesses and livelihoods,” Mr Zahra said.

“Finally, we have a roadmap for how Australia is going to live with the virus as vaccination rates improve. This has certainly been a long time coming and is a welcome relief for businesses, who’ve been treated like an on/off light switch, whenever new Covid outbreaks occur.

“The inconsistent approaches from the different state and territory governments have been a confidence killer for businesses. The commitment that lockdowns will be used as a ‘last resort’ will be music to their ears.”

Mr Zahra said ARA members stand ready to support the national vaccine rollout by allowing vaccinations in more national retail pharmacies as stocks improve.

“Retailers have lost billions in retail trade through almost 50 days of state-imposed lockdowns this year – leaving many small businesses and working Australians exposed without a JobKeeper safety-net,” Mr Zahra said.

“Vaccinations are now our best weapon to fight the virus and retailers want to do everything they can to support take-up rates across the country.

“Only a small number of pharmacies have been given the green light to administer Covid vaccines, but there are thousands more that are suitable and are willing to assist. Chemists are proficient at delivering cold and flu shots and it makes sense that we mobilise these professionals to assist their communities.

“Unfortunately, Australia has lost its strong Covid health advantage, with most leading economies now much further ahead on vaccine uptake – and that will begin to impact our economic fortunes if we don’t reverse that position.

“The Australian Retailers Association, through its vast network of retail businesses, stands ready to support the vaccination effort in any way it can,” Mr Zahra said.

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