Embattled small to medium businesses (SMEs) operating across greater Sydney have been dealt a further blow with the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions.
Other than ‘click and collect’, takeaway and home delivery, retail premises are now required to close with the following exceptions:
- grocery stores (including butchers, bakeries, fruit and vegetable, seafood and other food retailers)
- kiosks and other small food and drink premises
- petrol stations
- liquor stores
- chemists providing health, medical, maternity and baby supplies
- banks and financial institutions
- hardware, building supplies
- landscaping material supplies
- agricultural and rural supplies
- pet supplies
- post offices and newsagents
- office supplies
- garden centres and plant nurseries
- vehicle hire premises, not including the premises at which vehicles are sold
- shops that predominantly carry out repairs of mobile phones
Construction sites to be shut down
From 12.01 am on Monday, 19 July, all construction will be paused, as will all non-urgent maintenance, including cleaning services and repair work on residential premises. The shutdown will also apply to major government infrastructure projects. Businesses were given the weekend to shut down and safely secure worksites.
Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Morey, has been calling for the reinstatement of the JobKeeper program since the Sydney lockdown began. He said, “This program maintains the link between employer and employee and allows businesses and their workforce to re-emerge on the other side of a lockdown.”
Closures expected but expensive for retailers
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the closure of non-essential retail in Greater Sydney has come as no surprise but is a massive blow for small businesses already doing it tough.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said today’s announcement finally ends the confusion around what is considered essential shopping, but it will come with a heavy economic cost.
“This announcement has come as no surprise, with daily case numbers hovering around triple figures, so tighter restrictions were always on the cards,” Mr Zahra said.
“The silver lining in all this is that we finally have a clear definition from the NSW Government on what is considered essential retail. The previous three weeks have been incredibly confusing for businesses and consumers, with no direction on retailers having to close.
“We’ve seen situations where smaller retailers have been open with no customers with government advice to only purchase ‘essential’ items which is open to interpretation.
“Whilst this is a devastating blow for the businesses that will have to close, this at least provides some clarity and will hopefully see an end to the confusion around people shopping for essentials.
“Most retailers have a digital option, so if there are things you would normally buy in stores that will have to close, consider click and collect, shop online and check out the takeaway and delivery options that are available.”
Other new lockdown restrictions
In addition to the stay-at-home rules, residents of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool LGAs cannot leave their LGA for work except for emergency services and healthcare workers (including aged and disability workers). Where those workers do need to leave their LGA for work, they are required to be tested every three days, even if they do not have symptoms.
Anyone who leaves home must have a mask with them at all times. They must be worn when working outdoors, in outdoor markets, outdoor shopping strips, and in an outdoor queue waiting for products such as coffee and food.
All carpooling is to be stopped unless among members of the same household.