The Victorian Government’s roadmap for reopening Metropolitan Melbourne uses excessive thresholds for easing restrictions and should be overhauled using the National roadmap as the basis, argues the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“The Victorian Government should use the national roadmap as a starting point for getting to COVID normal and to get the state back on track and re-aligned with the rest of Australia,” ACCI CEO James Pearson said.
“They have overlooked sensible risk management approaches which we have seen implemented very effectively in NSW when it comes to managing outbreaks.
“In businesses and communities where risk is low, we need to see a sense of normalcy returned.
“For higher risk situations or locations, contact tracing and localised, targeted restrictions are working well, and they aren’t crippling great swathes of the economy.
Mr Pearson said the trigger points used are “excessive” and are not a realistic attempt to balance the health risk with the economic and social costs.
“Requiring no new cases for a fortnight before restaurants and cafes can operate at restricted capacity indoors is a hurdle too high and goes further than any other state.
“We have to live with the risk of the virus. This continues to be the advice from health authorities, to suppress the virus, not eliminate it. But that’s not what this Victorian plan does. It is an elimination strategy in all but name. It needs to go back to the drawing board.
“Businesses are not against the state roadmap’s ‘first step’ to tighten the virus spread in the next two weeks of lockdown. It’s the second stage onwards, the tail end of the roadmap, which is disproportionate to risk. It is destroying business confidence.”
“ACCI believes targeted approaches to the isolation and movement of people remains the best course; the Government provides an updated map of daily cases by Local Government Area and we know a number of these have no active cases – why can’t we get more localised and smarter with the restrictions.
“A further six weeks or more delay in restoring businesses, particularly in hospitality, will be the death knell for them and set Melbourne’s once-thriving metropolis back years.
“Businesses face continuing, heavy restrictions, despite the fact they have COVIDSafe plans and have shown their capability to prevent the spread of the virus in workplaces.
“Faced with further delays and uncertainty in when and how they can operate, many people in business in Victoria will have to consider whether they can keep going. Some will have to relocate, to other parts of Australia or even overseas, where jurisdictions will be competing to attract employers and investors.
“For the sake of the national economy, not just Victoria’s, it is vital the Victorian Government listens to the community, including the people in business who provide the jobs and goods and services the community needs, and re-think its approach to a new COVID world.”