Business leaders say Victoria’s snap coronavirus lockdown is a “bitter disappointment” and have called for a national framework to try to end stop-start restrictions that are hurting the business community.
- Business lobby groups are dismayed by Victoria’s snap lockdown
- They say business is paying dearly for hotel quarantine shortcomings
- Business Council of Australia wants a national plan to deal with the virus
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the five-day lockdown announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews this afternoon would have “monumental social and economic costs”.
“This is the second lockdown caused by Victoria’s hotel quarantine system, it must not be as long and destructive as the last. We must get hotel quarantine working properly,” she said.
Ms Westacott said Australia needed a national framework that allowed the nation to live with the virus.
She said even a short lockdown had a significant impact on business.
“Small businesses will now be making decisions about whether to lay-off staff or destroy inventory. Airlines will be cancelling thousands of flights and shifts.”
“The Victorian government must now explain why this step is necessary and exactly how this will work for each and every business across the state.
“If NSW can manage a much bigger outbreak, keep the state open and people safe then there is no reason other states can’t do the same.”
‘Groundhog Day’ for Victorian businesses
Her frustration was shared by the chief executive Victorian industry lobby the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI), Paul Guerra.
“Victorian businesses are anxious and frustrated,” he said.
“Today is Groundhog Day for Victorian businesses, who are feeling deeply frustrated about the current COVID-19 situation in Victoria and the impact that these latest restrictions will have on their business,” Mr Guerra said.
“Victoria must avoid a third wave and if the public health advice is that restrictions are required to do that, then we have to accept that they are necessary.
“However, Victorian businesses cannot and should not keep paying the price for the shortcomings in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system.”
He said this weekend had been expected to be busy with the Australian Open and other sporting events, Valentine’s Day, weddings and functions planned.
“Business will once again have to absorb the cost of stock losses, while thousands of Victorians won’t be able to work. It’s another massive blow to our economy which was just starting to get back on its feet,” he said.
Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp said while the lockdown was devastating for the business community, she called on Victorians to “pull together to get through this lockdown and reduce the spread of the virus”.
“Our focus is on making sure Melbourne is open for business as soon as the restrictions lift … until the vaccine is rolled out, we will need to show resilience and unity during this time of uncertainty,” Councillor Capp said.