Saturday, June 22, 2024

Removal of masks to aid retail recovery

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra says the removal of mask requirements in most Victorian indoor settings is a practical step in getting more people back working in offices and to contribute to the revitalisation of the Melbourne CBD.

“The office occupancy rate in Melbourne is languishing at 4% – the lowest out of all the capital cities in the country,” says Mr Zahra.

“As vaccination rates improve and the Omicron wave continues to subside, we support the sensible wind-back of restrictions to encourage more people back working in offices and increase foot traffic in the CBD to provide a much-needed boost to the city’s retail businesses.

“International tourists have started to return and it’s now up to the state’s employers to lead the way in managing the safe transition of people back into their offices to truly kick-start the CBD’s recovery.

“Most employers and their staff have embraced working from home arrangements, and it’s a trend that’s here to stay. However, it’s equally important that we get teams back face-to-face to improve mental health outcomes, collaboration and relationship building. It’s up to employers to strike the right balance with what works best for their people.

“We’re pleased to see our two largest states – Victoria and NSW – working together in their approach to relaxing restrictions and living with the virus in a safe and responsible way. QR codes have now been removed in retail settings in both states, which is a welcome relief.

“However, we would like to see masks shift to ‘encouraged’ for retail workers in Victoria as they are in NSW for national consistency and to help remove any workforce barriers for retail workers during this time of acute staff shortages.

“As they have throughout the pandemic, retailers will follow the health advice and protocols that are put in place. It’s important we continue on the path to living with Covid and that restrictions continue to be reviewed and eased where possible, in accordance with the expert health advice.”

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