Open retail with mask

The National Retail Association has called for express opening dates for Victorian businesses with fully vaccinated staff, in a plan presented to the State Government today.

NRA Chief Executive Officer Dominique Lamb made the call during consultations over the Victorian COVID recovery roadmap, saying that the indicative opening date of November 5 for all retail should be brought forward for those with 100 per cent vaccination among their staff.

“We accept the need to stage the reopening, but we see an opportunity to drive vaccine take-up and reward those businesses whose staff have done the right thing,” Ms Lamb said.

“So rather than holding back all retail until we reach 80 per cent of the population, we encourage the government to grant an exemption to businesses who can prove that all staff have had both doses.

“This will help bring businesses back to normal operation in a staged manner, with priority for those who are most ready to safely resume operations.”

Ms Lamb has also called on Victoria to allow people to remove masks in shopping centre food courts and fast-food centres, saying the current ban on indoor eating would effectively stop people from buying.

“If you are required to go outside to eat when you buy a sandwich or burger from a shopping centre retailer, you simply aren’t going to bother making the purchase,” Ms Lamb said.

“This rule will effectively cripple fast food and takeaway businesses in shopping centres. They will be paying full rent and wages, but will have a significantly reduced customer base.

“It’s commonly accepted in other states and places – including on aircraft and at tightly-packed sporting events – that removing masks to eat is a reasonable action with manageable risk associated.

“We accept the need for the staged easing of restrictions, and we welcome the opportunity to share the views of retailers with the Government.  We would now like to see the roadmap tweaked a little in response to that feedback.”