Victoria reveals strict new restrictions as retailers forced to close

All retail stores will close across Melbourne for the remainder of the state’s Stage Four lockdown apart from those deemed essential.

As of 11.59pm on Wednesday all stores will close for the next six weeks after cases continued to soar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagents and post offices are expected to be the only retail stores that can remain open.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday however retail stores could still offer contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services.

Hardware stores will remain open onsite, but for tradespeople only.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media during a press conference on August 02 in Melbourne.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced non-essential retailers will be forced to shut their doors. Source: Getty

Victoria reported 429 new cases on Monday and 13 more deaths, taking Australia’s death toll to 221.

It comes after the state announced 671 cases on Sunday and a further 10 deaths reported over the weekend.

“Truthfully, I never thought I’d find myself in a position where I’d have to ask people not to go to work,” Mr Andrews said in a statement.

“But if we’re serious about driving this thing down – and we absolutely must be – we need to take unprecedented steps in limiting the movement of people, and therefore limiting the movement of this virus.”

He told reporters on Monday there was no Stage Five and these new restrictions “had to work”.

Mr Andrews said there would be “very significant pain” as he also announced the three groups of that would be affected by tough new restrictions.

The three groups impacted by new restrictions

The stores that will remain open

All businesses deemed essential will remain open, including supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths, grocery stores, newsagents, bottle shops, pharmacies, banks, petrol stations and post offices.

Hardware stores such as Bunnings will remain open onsite but only for tradespeople.

The stores that are forced to close

Mr Andrews said industries where onsite operations will have to cease for the next six weeks include retail stores as well as some manufacturing and administration industries.

Unless these stores have specific circumstances where a shutdown will take them longer, all must close as off 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Click and Collect and delivery services however will still be available for customers.

“To give you the retail example, for instance, Bunnings, you will no longer be able to go into a Bunnings store but you will be able to collect goods without making contact with anybody,” Mr Andrews said.

Businesses that will change the way they work

Industries such as meat production will continue, but Mr Andrews warned it would be operating at a significantly reduced capacity too a normal August and September.

“If I can give you a couple of examples, firstly, meat works, we know that meat works are a really significant challenge for us,” he said.

“Whether it be lamb, poultry or beef, they will move to two-thirds production, so they will reduce their production by one third.

“And those workplaces will look very different. There will be some of the most stringent safety protocols that have ever been put in place in any industrial setting. Those workers will be essentially dressed as if they were a health worker. Gloves and gowns, masks and shields, they will be working in one workplace only, they will be temperature checked, they will be tested.

Those changes are expected to come into effect as of midnight Friday.

Premier warns against panic buying

Mr Andrews warned Victorians against panic buying as Melbourne restrictions tighten.

“You may not be able to buy every single item that you want in the quantities you normally would, but people will have everything they need,” he said.

“And there’ll be more to go around if people buy what they need when they need it rather than going and buying four trolleys worth of groceries and enough chicken or beef to last you until Christmas.

Pictured is a senior shopping at a Woolworths supermarket in Canberra.
Victorians are urged not to panic buy as lockdown restrictions tighten. Source: Getty

“That’s no necessary. That is simply not necessary. And that’s why I think you’ll find that a number of our supermarkets will add to the restrictions they’ve already put in place, and I fully support them doing that.”

Woolworths has reinstated purchase limits on at least 50 products in Victoria after Premier Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster on Sunday.

Tough new penalties for rule-breakers

Mr Andrews had a stern message for Victorians who were thinking about flouting the state’s lockdown laws.

“There is no alternative but to follow the rules. There is no alternative but to get tested if you have even the mildest symptoms. There is no alternative but to stay at home if you are waiting for a test result or if you have the virus and have been told to stay at home.

“This is absolutely critical. Every Victorian is making enormous sacrifices.”

Melburnians exercise along Elwood Beach on July 13, 2020 in Melbourne.
Premier Daniel Andrews will announce tough new penalties for those who flout lockdown laws. Source: Getty

The premier said he would announce significant boosts to penalties and enforcement on Tuesday and it would include the involvement of the Australian Defence Force.

“These are not easy decisions. This is a very tough day, and there are many more of those to come before we get to the other side of this. But these are the decisions that have to be made, that is why I have made them. We have a clear strategy.”

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