The Victorian Premier has announced that thousands of businesses will need to shut their doors this week, including financial services, but essential services – including bank branches – will remain open.
Thousands of businesses will be required to close their doors in metropolitan Melbourne by 11:59pm Wednesday (5 August) for a period of six weeks, under new lockdown restrictions in Victoria.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced new measures to Victoria’s lockdown in addition to the previous restrictions, including working-from-home requirements and evening curfews, which will mean around one million Victorians will no longer be moving around the state for work.
“Under stage 4 ‘stay at home’ restrictions, the default is that workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne will be closed unless the workplace is part of a permitted industry...
“All Victorians are required to work from home, except where this is not practicable.
“Sole operators can continue to operate, if they do not have contact with the public, or with people other than those persons living in their primary household,” the government has outlined.
The new measures will require the vast majority of non-essential services to close their premises for a period of six weeks from 11.59pm on 5 August.
Supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, news agencies, post offices – plus everyone involved in frontline response – will continue to operate.
Other industries, such as warehousing, distribution and construction, will move to pilot “light levels” of work, restricting the number of people on site.
Construction of critical and essential infrastructure (including state civil construction) and services to support these projects will remain open, and “critical repairs to residential premises are allowed, where required for emergency or safety”.
The majority of all other businesses will be asked to close their doors.
Financial and insurance services are among the businesses being closed for on-site work.
However, bank branches and “critical banking services to support the provision of services, credit and payment facilities, including the functioning of all operational, treasury, distribution, reporting, communications, monitoring, maintenance, corporate, support and other functions” will remain open.
Premier Andrews said: “I think that many financial institutions, our banks, have stood up and have, by and large, done very important work, very, very good work to support people with mortgages whose circumstances could not have reasonably been foreseen [and who] are in very, very difficult circumstances.
“They’ve done their best, I think (at least that’s the feedback that I get), they’ve done their very best to try and accommodate that with the deferrals and other things. I would encourage them to keep going the way they have, because I think their customers are obviously very grateful for that.”
Retail, some manufacturing and administration will all need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday (5 August) for a period of six weeks, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shutdown safely. However, retail stores will be permitted to operate contactless “click and collect” and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place, and hardware stores can remain open on-site, but for tradespeople only.
Mr Andrews commented on Monday afternoon (3 August): “I understand this will have real and heavy consequences for a number of businesses, workers and their families. We’ll do everything we can to lighten that load.
“For those businesses that suffer significant losses or need to close as a result of the current restrictions, we will provide support through our expanded Business Support Fund.
“Businesses in regional Victoria can apply for a $5,000 grant, while those in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire can apply for up to $10,000 in recognition of spending longer under restrictions.
“Honestly, this will be an imperfect process.
“The decision of which column to put millions of Victorian jobs – millions of Victorian workers – could never be clear cut.
“And, as much as we’d like one, there is no playbook when it comes to a pandemic.
“But what is clear is that if we don’t do this now, if this doesn’t work, then we’ll need a much longer list of complete shutdowns.”
The Premier conceded that it was “hard to imagine what a stage 5 might look like”, but noted that “it would radically change the way people live. Not just rules on when and where you can go shopping, but restrictions on going shopping at all.”
He said: “This will be hard. It’ll be frustrating. It’ll be confusing. For a lot of workers and their families, it’ll be heartbreaking.
“But the only way to get people back to work and businesses back open is by making these tough decisions – and by Victorians abiding by them.
“We have to make this work.
“Lives and livelihoods are counting on it.”
You can download the full list of impacted businesses here.
[Related: Government unveils skills stimulus package]
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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