Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said the removal of mask requirements in most Victorian indoor settings is a practical step in getting more people back working in offices and to contribute to the revitalisation of the Melbourne CBD.
“The office occupancy rate in Melbourne is languishing at 4% – the lowest out of all the capital cities in the country,” Mr Zahra said.
“As vaccination rates improve and the Omicron wave continues to subside, we support the sensible wind-back of restrictions to encourage more people back working in offices and increase foot traffic in the CBD to provide a much-needed boost to the city’s retail businesses.
“International tourists have started to return and it’s now up to the state’s employers to lead the way in managing the safe transition of people back into their offices to truly kick-start the CBD’s recovery.
“Most employers and their staff have embraced working from home arrangements, and it’s a trend that’s here to stay. However, it’s equally important that we get teams back face-to-face to improve mental health outcomes, collaboration and relationship building. It’s up to employers to strike the right balance with what works best for their people.
“We’re pleased to see our two largest states – Victoria and NSW – working together in their approach to relaxing restrictions and living with the virus in a safe and responsible way. QR codes have now been removed in retail settings in both states, which is a welcome relief.
“However, we would like to see masks shift to ‘encouraged’ for retail workers in Victoria as they are in NSW for national consistency and to help remove any workforce barriers for retail workers during this time of acute staff shortages.
“As they have throughout the pandemic, retailers will follow the health advice and protocols that are put in place. It’s important we continue on the path to living with Covid and that restrictions continue to be reviewed and eased where possible, in accordance with the expert health advice.”
ARA Media Team
T 0419 270 863
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