Enforce social distancing in shops: union

Matt Coughlan
A union wants a national rollout of public health officials to ensure social distancing in malls

The head of the retail workers' union has floated giving shopping centre security guards temporary powers to crack down on social distancing.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer also wants a national rollout of public health officials to police shopping precincts.

"Can there be temporary powers given to security guards for the life of COVID? I don't know," he told the coronavirus Senate inquiry on Tuesday.

"We are happy to have the conversation but something has got to be done - this is a health risk for our members."

Mr Dwyer said the national cabinet of federal, state and territory leaders should be looking closely at giving public health officials capacity to enforce social distancing in shopping centres.

He said last weekend was concerning for workers, with signs of a return to normal particularly in Victoria, the nation's coronavirus hotspot.

"People seem to be becoming quite complacent," he said.

Mr Dwyer said while many shops were enforcing the one person per four square metre rule, common areas in centres needed more attention.

"The common areas need to lift their standards to what has become the norm inside shops themselves," he said.