Victoria has declared a state of disaster, with surging coronavirus cases forcing Premier Daniel Andrews to impose tougher lockdown restrictions.
These Stage Four restrictions mean Melbourne residents will need to abide by an overnight curfew for the next six weeks.
They’ll also only be able to leave their home once a day for essential supplies and food, and once for an hour of exercise. When they do leave, they can’t travel more than 5 kilometres from their home.
All retail stores across Melbourne that aren’t deemed essential will also be forced to close for the entirety of the stage four restrictions.
The only stores to remain open will be: Supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagents and post offices.
It follows a surge of 671 virus cases on Sunday, with the total number nearing 12,000.
But with the state’s unemployment rate edging towards 9 per cent, Victorians have more to lose from the lockdown than just their freedom.
“Stage four will mean the end for many businesses, with thousands more jobs set to be lost,” Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Paul Guerra said.
“Business will take a further hit with employees now also having to supervise school age children at home again, and childcare centres closed for the first time.”
Gig economy workers hit
While Melbourne residents able to work from home during the lockdown may not feel the pinch, those whose jobs have not been deemed ‘essential’, like gig economy workers, stand to lose.
“Unless food delivery drivers are considered essential, and made exempt from stage 4 restrictions - such as not being able to travel further than 5km from home and the 8pm-5am curfew - they will be restricted from performing their usual duties,' Kitty Lu, food delivery service EASI’s national account manager, told Yahoo Finance.
And the effect will be two-fold: more unemployed Australians, and more chances of further outbreaks.
“Several outbreaks have been linked to supermarkets and food distribution centres,” Lu said.
“Food delivery really is the best way to keep people at home, and avoid having them mix together in busy, high trafficked locations while we are battling to contain this virus.
“Food delivery services are, and should be considered, essential in stopping the spread as well as protecting the livelihood of Melbourne's hospitality industry.”
Tourism in ‘dire’ circumstances
It’s no surprise Victoria’s tourism industry will take a hit from the new six-week lockdown, with industry bodies now calling for a special JobKeeper boost for employees.
“While we completely respect the need for these drastic measures to get the virus under control, this six-week dramatic shutdown will gut our industry and dim the prospects of making it through to the other side of this situation, for many,” Victoria Tourism Industry Council chief Felicia Mariani said.
It comes as Victoria’s accommodation and food services sector suffered the greatest decline in jobs performance in the country, seeing a 24.4 per cent decline in jobs against a national decline of 18.1 per cent.
“These numbers reaffirm what the Victorian tourism industry has seen and felt for months now, as extended lockdown sequencing has decimated any recovery opportunities the sector might have had,” Mariani said.
The VTIC called on the government to maintain JobKeeper at $1,500 per fortnight beyond the September expiry date and reinstate business support grants.
“At the current rate of progress, the reality is that Victorian operators will likely have to endure the best part of 12 months with little or no revenue,” Mariani said.
“There is no business that could have ever planned to survive in such conditions.”
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