With Australia’s two biggest centres of economic activity now locked down, retailers, retail workers and shopping centres have joined forces with a five point action plan designed to protect business and consumers in extremely trying circumstances.
The Australian Retailers Association, the National Retail Association, the SDA the union for retail workers, the Pharmacy Guild and the Shopping Centre Council of Australia are calling on shoppers to abide by health authorities’ rules on the wearing of masks and checking in with QR Codes whenever they shop.
The clear medical evidence is that masks vastly reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, especially in enclosed spaces, and that consistent use of QR Codes makes the task of contact tracing much more effective.
Paul Zahra, CEO Australian Retailers Association said “Frontline retail staff have played a vital role throughout the pandemic under the most challenging of circumstances. We ask Australians to recognise and support the important work of these teams in keeping customers COVID-safe – we are all in this together.”
Zahra said, “Retailers have doubled their efforts to ensure their stores are safe shopping environments and will continue to encourage customers to do the right thing and follow the health measures in place. We ask the community to please respect their efforts.”
Angus Nardi, Executive Director of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia said “Our members are operating shopping centres in a COVID-safe manner, supplying the community with essential goods and services. We’re united with the union and retailers on this issue, and sadly we’ve seen anti-social behaviour in areas such as food courts along with road rage incidents within car parks.”
Nardi said, “We are focused on doing the right thing and in some cases, abuse and aggression towards our staff is the result of them simply reminding people to follow government rules such as wearing a face mask or using a QR Code check-in.”
While it is acknowledged that every retail premise, shopping centre or venue can pose different circumstances, the five point retail and shopping centre action plan aims to ensure health requirements are met and businesses that can open can run effectively:
1. Security guards and other qualified personnel to monitor and encourage customer adherence to relevant public health guidelines, including regular police visits to shopping centres
2. Maintain relevant essential safety measures such as air-handling systems, exit doors, emergency power supply, smoke alarms, sprinkler systems and fire-isolated stairs
3. Daily check-ins with employees on their well-being, ensuring employees and contractors are properly trained and have access to relevant information and personal protective equipment (PPE).
4. Monitoring customer behaviour to ensure retail workers are being treated with respect – abusive and violent behaviour towards retail workers will not be tolerated.
5. Encouraging and ensuring public gathering limits in accordance with government directions (no more than 1 person per 4m2 in stores inclusive of staff) and social distancing guidelines, currently a distance of 1.5m
Dominique Lamb, CEO National Retailers Association said, “These are incredibly challenging times for NSW and Victoria and it’s critical that everyone plays their part when visiting stores to uphold safety standards. The retail sector has shown repeatedly that it can be trusted to enforce the necessary measures during COVID lockdowns and this is the latest example.”
Lockdowns are a time of stress, but that is no justification for abusing or threatening retail staff. Essentials are in good supply and there is no need for panic buying. Retailers and retail staff are doing their best to ensure you get all you need.
Gerard Dwyer, National Secretary SDA stated, “Retail workers and their employers are united in their determination to provide the community with access to the essentials of life in these difficult and dangerous times. The more closely shoppers follow health and safety measures, the safer shopping for essentials will be for consumers and the retail workers alike.”
Trent Twomey, National President Pharmacy Guild said, “Community pharmacists and their staff are implementing measures to protect patients and people working in pharmacies during the pandemic. These measures may mean that the experience of shopping in a pharmacy is different from what people have been accustomed to where some of the actions may seem confronting and uncomfortable. But the measures are necessary to protect the community and as such the people in the pharmacy must continue to be treated with respect and courtesy during these difficult times.”
The current lockdown is estimated to cost the retail industry up to $1 billion per week, with the new restrictions in place in NSW and now Victoria in lockdown, the industry is experiencing its biggest closure in history.