The National Retail Association has urged the Queensland Government to take a “light touch” approach to businesses during the current COVID outbreak, once the initial lockdown period ends.

Amid speculation that the greater Brisbane closure may last longer than the initial three days, the NRA has urged the State Government to implement a sensible approach to managing businesses.

“Our message to the Government is that retailers can safely manage the risks associated with COVID19, and they should be allowed to get back to business once the three-day lockdown is complete,” Ms Lamb said.

“Of all the major COVID hotspots that Queensland has seen, none of them has been linked to a retail store,” Ms Lamb said.

“Throughout the early phase of the pandemic 12 months ago, and in all the time since – including the busy Christmas and Boxing Day period – Queensland retailers have shown that they can safely manage the situation.

“They have followed the rules about customer limits in stores, they have enforced social distancing, and they have implemented hygiene measures appropriate to their business type.

“While we understand the need for the initial closure, to give contract tracers a chance to catch up, we also need to balance that with the need to protect businesses and jobs.

“Queensland retailers have shown they can do both. So we’re urging the Government not to extend the lockdown, and instead trust our retailers to do the right thing while they get on with their work.”

Ms Lamb dismissed calls to allow trading on Good Friday, saying while the suggestion had merit it would be too difficult to implement in such a short timeframe.

“We recognise that Good Friday is a day of special significance for many people, and we have always respected that tradition.

“And frankly, any change would require State Parliament to change the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act, which can’t happen.

“What this does show, however, is the need for greater flexibility in trading hours laws.  We once would have had the ability to ask the Industrial Relations Commission for flexibility to deal with emerging issues such as COVID-19.

“However, under a five-year freeze implemented in 2017, everyone’s hands are tied and businesses can’t respond to consumer needs in a crisis situation.

“With the Act due to be reviewed this year, we call on the Government to reintroduce the discretion for the QIRC to vary trading hours to suit different circumstances. “

The National Retail Association is the Voice of Modern Retail, with more than 28,000 shop fronts nationwide.  It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast food sectors for close to 100 years.

Dominique Lamb is available for interviews.  Contact the NRA media unit on 0467 792 013.