Big or small, delay hurts us all

The BCA and COSBOA have today urged the Victorian government to bring forward the plan and timetable to open up, saying lockdowns and border closures are causing massive economic and social damage.

“Extreme lockdowns and border closures are papering over the urgent need for a workable plan to live safely with this virus,’’ Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“We all recognise that in the long run there can be no trade-off between health, social and economic recovery, but our strategy must deliver on all fronts, or it will fail.

“Victoria needs to lead and bring forward its timetable to open up so people can get on with their lives and learn to live safely side-by-side with the virus.

“We need a faster and more certain timetable so everyone can plan, it’s simply not viable for many people and businesses for Victoria to remain mothballed indefinitely and cut off from the rest of the country.

“NSW’s different approach to managing and living alongside the virus has balanced the health and economic imperatives.

“This means schools are open so kids can continue their education and their parents can work, small businesses can make plans for the busy Christmas period and people can visit their family and friends.

“With Victorian infection numbers stabilising to a level similar to NSW, people are entitled to ask, ‘why isn’t Victoria doing the same?’

“Every day of delay and ongoing restrictions only deepens the devastating social and economic harm Victorians are experiencing.

“The fallout in Victoria from the second wave has left it in a worse place than after the first wave. Today’s data show 120,000 Victorians have either lost a job or been stood down with no work since early July,’’ Ms Westacott said.

Council of Small Business Organisations Australia chief executive officer Peter Strong said: “The theoretical daily infection rate threshold which has been developed by computer models ignores the dire human and economic impacts of prolonged restrictions.

“Delaying – instead of accelerating – plans to relax restrictions would further undermine public confidence.

“We are calling on all states to publicly spell out robust plans for how they will manage this virus going forward while allowing people to get on with their lives.

“This means having secure hotel quarantine systems, adequate monitoring of self-isolation, effective and reliable digital tracking and tracing to contain outbreaks locally, and a proper and dignified system for people in aged care and vulnerable situations,’’ Mr Strong said.

Ms Westacott and Mr Strong said: “Business has COVID-safe plans in place and stands ready to work further with governments on any measures needed to protect the community including enhanced digital tracking and tracing.

“We must all remain vigilant on social distancing and hygiene because complacency is our enemy,’’ they said.

Ms Westacott added: “Lockdowns were necessary in the early stages of the virus because they gave us time to build capacity in our hospitals, stock up on vital health equipment such as masks and sanitiser, and put testing and contact tracing regimes in place.

“Now, they produce a false sense of security and a lack of preparedness to live side by side with the virus.

“Mental health, domestic violence and social issues in Victoria have risen steeply and some children haven’t been to school since March. This is especially acute for disadvantaged students without adequate access to technology,’’ she said.

Mr Strong said: “Small and family-owned businesses need certainty to plan for Christmas, their busiest trading period of the year.

“They deserve to know now if they will be able to open up their doors and given time to stock up their inventory.’’

“Failure to implement a staged reopening of the Victorian economy from this Sunday will result in many small and family businesses in Victoria being forced to close their doors permanently - even before the Christmas trading season begins,’’ Mr Strong said.