Easing of Vic pandemic protocols key to business confidence
Thursday 17 February 2022
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said the removal of QR codes for Victorian retail is an encouraging step towards living with Covid and called for the indoor mask mandate for office workers to be scrapped next – an important requirement for the revival of the Melbourne CBD.
“We thank the Victorian Government for the easing of restrictions announced today and we’re looking forward to health measures being relaxed further in the coming days,” Mr Zahra said.
“QR codes and density requirements have served an important purpose over the past two years of the pandemic, but they’ve passed their use by date as we transition to recovery and living with Covid.
“Today’s changes are a show of good faith to business and the community that pandemic protocols will be removed when it’s safe to do so. Confidence is currency for business - and removing some of the barriers to entry of a retail store and hospitality venue help restore a sense of wellbeing for customers and their teams. The density quotients have also been a significant barrier to profitability for hospitality operators who have been amongst the hardest hit through the Omicron and Delta waves.
“We are focused on the removal of the mask mandate, which is serving as a massive disincentive for getting people back into the office. Melbourne’s office occupancy rate is the lowest in the country at 4% - foot traffic is languishing and it’s severely hampering CBD retailers in their recovery efforts.
“CBDs are a concern across the country, and Melbourne in particular – our capital cities a far cry from the thriving hubs they were once before. The international border reopens next week to tourists and business travellers, but this isn’t a silver bullet solution as it will take years for tourism levels to get anywhere near pre-pandemic levels.
“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way our city’s function and we need to look at bold ideas to inject them with new life. It’s important there’s a continued collaborative approach between government, business and industry and we acknowledge the efforts that have been made by state and territory governments in this regard.”
About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $360bn sector which employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 100,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit retail.org.au