The Business Council of Australia has coordinated ‘An open letter from the business community’ collectively asking governments across the country to work together and implement the National Plan and chart a uniform path out of lockdowns.
Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia said “Our economy is resilient and by sticking to the National Plan to safely reopen as vaccination rates increase, we can get Australia back on the path to recovery.’’
The representation of companies include a broad range of industries and sectors. From the retail and shopping centre industry, signatories include: Scentre Group, Mirvac, Stockland, Woolworths Group, Coles Group, Wesfarmers and the Compass Group. Many of these companies face loss of revenue and uncertainty due to the months of lockdown in major states including New South Wales and Victoria. A commitment to stick to the plan will mean a more promising Christmas and summer sales period and will give people something to hope for, something to look forward to, something to plan around and give employees confidence about their futures.
The letter states: “We, the undersigned, represent businesses which employ almost one million Australians, and provide products and services to people right across the country. We have seen how effectively this country can come together over the past 18 months – with state and federal governments working alongside communities and businesses.”
“We have seen the effectiveness of lockdowns in suppressing the virus last year, and in slowing its spread today while we vaccinate the population as quickly as possible. We are encouraged by the building momentum in the vaccine program, with Australia now administering more doses per capita each week than the UK or the US ever achieved in their programs.”
“At the same time, we can also see the impact of lockdowns on our people, on our customers, on our small business suppliers, and on communities and families right across the country. Australia is juggling a mental health emergency at the same time as a global pandemic. Some of the impacts of current lockdowns are hidden, and the effects will be long lasting.”
The letter calls for the opening up of society as vaccination rates increase. “It will become necessary to open up society and live with the virus, in the same way that other countries have done. The National Cabinet has agreed to a roadmap which provides a path out of lockdowns, with an easing of restrictions from 70% and 80% vaccination rates. We need to stay the course.”
Informed by modelling from the Doherty Institute, it balances the risks from COVID in a more vaccinated population, with the risks of indefinitely keeping our country divided and cut off from the world, our children out of schools, our friends apart from loved ones, and our small businesses closed.
The opinion reiterates “Businesses will continue to do whatever we can to support our people to get vaccinated and to provide a safe environment for our customers and the community, including the prioritisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as originally intended.”
The influential group of businesses addresses the government “We ask governments to work together to implement the National Plan and chart a path out of the current lockdowns. Providing a light at the end of the tunnel will encourage more Australians to get vaccinated. We need to give people something to hope for, something to look forward to, something to plan around, and to be confident about their futures.”