Retail unlikely to re-open under rejigged Step 3

Melbourne’s retailers will remain closed. Picture: Tony Gough
Melbourne’s retailers will remain closed. Picture: Tony Gough

Melbourne’s retailers appear unlikely to get the reprieve they were hoping for next weekend under the State Government’s roadmap to reopening, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews hinting shops will almost certainly remain closed.

With Melbourne’s number of daily coronavirus cases stubbornly hovering around double digits, it is now all but impossible for the city to meet the target of less than five cases per day that would trigger the full third step in the reopening process, which includes all retail being permitted to open.

But while Mr Andrews on Monday suggested there will be a relaxing of some restrictions next Monday, retail is unlikely to be among them.

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“No decision has been made on retail. And I think it’s unlikely that this weekend there will be a big shift in terms of retail,” he said at Monday’s daily press conference.

“There are risks, not so much with the setting, the risk relates to movement.”

Mr Andrews revealed hardware chain Bunnings was among the retailers that had made strong overtures to the government to be allowed to reopen, but he said retail still posed too great a risk.

“We’ve had Bunnings put pretty clear views to us, ‘Our stores are safe, we haven’t had any outbreaks’, and that’s largely true,” he said.

Bunnings Clyde North

Bunnings stores are still unable to open fully.

“I mean that in that they only know what they know. So the notion that no positive person has moved through one of their stores or any other retail store is probably unlikely. I think they almost certainly have.

“And it’s not so much that their premises, because they’ve done a great job with cleaning and all their protocols, it’s not so much the problem with the setting, it’s letting all the customers out of their homes to then go and shop there.”

Mr Andrews said any easing of restrictions would likely be in social settings, rather than economic ones.

“Provided we continue to see a trend where there are not a huge number of additional mystery cases — while we continue the see this trend flow through the rest of this week, then there will be some further easing that we can announce on Sunday,” he said.

“That will be broadly on the social space, rather than economic easing, but we may be able to do more on that front in regional Victoria.”

Under the original planned Step 3, there would be no restrictions on Melbournians leavening their homes, public gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed, up to five visitors from another household would be allowed in a home, hospitality would reopen for outdoor seated service, and all retail, hairdressing and beauty services would be permitted to reopen.