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Melbourne business owners are displeased with Premier Daniel Andrews’ plans to keep customer-facing businesses closed under his government’s latest COVID-19 response plan.
In a press conference on Sunday, the Premier announced Melbourne’s newest roadmap out of the pandemic, along with which came news that customer-facing businesses may not open until November 2.
There will be a limit of 50 patrons outdoors and a maximum of 20 inside, subject to density limits. Only 10 people can be in a single indoor area.
Chrissie Maus, General Manager of the Chapel Street Precinct, Melbourne’s busiest shopping precinct, has described the continued restrictions as “an unjust joke.”
“There’s a cloud of anger from Chapel Street Precinct businesses today as this is no longer acceptable or sustainable for our businesses,” she said. “I would have rather kept the 5km limit and the shops opened.”
The Chairman of the precinct, Justin O’Donnell has also labelled the continuing restrictions unfair, saying as other Australian states have reopened, Victoria should as well.
“The world is starting to manage the virus, learning to live with it rather than against it. Daniel Andrews is afraid to open up and it’s costing us our economy and local businesses,” he said.
“Australia’s other states have managed to reopen and this is now having an extremely bad mental health impact on our businesses owners and staff. If Dan is so confident that he has fixed the issues with Victoria’s contact tracing, then he has no excuse to keep us closed until maybe November.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments on Victorian restrictions
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has echoed this sentiment in a joint statement with Victorian frontbenchers Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt, saying Victoria’s restrictions have come at a “heavy cost.”
“The continued health, mental health and financial impacts of these restrictions will be profound on many Victorians,” he said.
“Our national health picture indicates we can safely reopen small businesses, retail stores and hospitality venues, as long as we do it with COVIDSafe practices.”
The Victorian Premier pushes back
However, when Premier Andrews’ was questioned on the delayed reopening on Victorian businesses at Sunday’s press conference, he defended his government’s approach.
“I’ve said this to you many times and indeed to all of you and I will say to every Victorian, you cannot fix the economy and repair the damage that this virus has done to the economy until you deal with the virus,” the Premier said.
“To go further than we have announced today is not safe and every person in business who is not pleased, well, these are not, no-one is enjoying this, it is not like we have made a decision and we had all of these perfectly equal options and we chose one rather than the other. No, that is not what we have done.
“We will get you open when it is safe to be open. For you, for your staff, for your customers and for every single Victorian.”