Chief Executive Update 20 October 2021

Sunday was a good day for most when we heard the State Government’s roadmap had been bought forward. I cannot wait to see the smiles on the faces of business owners, staff and customers when we start to emerge from lockdown in Metropolitan Melbourne this week.

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I know not everyone can open, and it’s why we will only truly celebrate when we get the signal that we can open at the roadmap's 80 per cent vaccination levels. As you will have heard me in the media, I’m hoping we will get that announcement this Sunday. How good would it be to get there in advance of the Melbourne Cup weekend?

Let’s get open and stay open! Victorians have heeded the call to get vaccinated and the State Government’s roadmap acceleration announcement recognised that effort with additional easing of restrictions across the state. It is good news, but I know many of you were seeking more, particularly those businesses who must wait until we reach 80 per cent vaccinated before they can trade viably.

I will be focusing my discussions with the Government on how we can fast track the roadmap to align with NSW and ensure no business and no job is left behind. As the home of food, coffee, wine, sport and events in Australia, we don’t want to fall behind the rest of the country and I’m hopeful of more positive developments heading into next week.

The Victorian Chamber would like to see the State Government be bold and declare there will be crowds for Derby Day. Even if we are projected to fall just short of the 80 per cent vaccination target, the State Government should be able to declare it a trial and turn the Melbourne Cup into a full event like Oaks and Stakes Day currently are.

At 90 per cent, the Victorian Chamber is advocating for all density limits to be removed for all indoor settings. Masks should only be required on public transport and in public spaces where social distancing can’t occur. We will also advocate for unrestricted travel across the country, and encourage the Government to adopt a home quarantine system for vaccinated returning Australians and vaccinated international travellers and students from countries with approved vaccines.

I mentioned in the media back in March that mandatory vaccination would be one of the biggest issue workplaces will confront this year, and it has proven to be the case. Victorian businesses and workers have done a great job reaching our vaccination targets, but they are desperately seeking guidance on mandatory vaccination implications so they can restart and get back to work confidently and safely. Last month, the Victorian Chamber also wrote to the Federal and State Governments seeking urgent clarification on the issues you have been raising with us, and we will continue to call on the Government to act swiftly on this matter.

This week we held a Vaccination Conversation Business Boost Webinar where we our team of experts joined me to answer as many of your questions as we could. We will continue to update our resources, advice and guidance on this topic as more information comes to hand. Make sure you also check out the upcoming free webinars in this series on our website.

In response to some of the concerns our members have raised, we have announced a new training course Managing Difficult Customers During the Pandemic that covers techniques and strategies you can use to deal with difficult customers while maintaining a safe workplace that includes QR code check ins, social distancing, hygiene and checking the vaccination status of staff and customers. We sold out the first session in less than a week! Places are still available for the upcoming sessions, so head to our website today and don’t miss out.

A reminder for those businesses which have accessed the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme that the mandatory reassessment is coming up. If a tenant does not provide the required evidence to their landlord for the reassessment by 31 October 2021, the waiver component of their rent relief agreement will no longer apply from that date onwards. You can read more here.

Also, in case you missed it, we want to know from our members and the broader business community as part of a survey on the cost of doing business in Victoria to further develop business-led policy recommendations that grow the competitiveness of Victoria’s economy and prosperity of its people. We appreciate the time you take to complete the short survey that will assist in our recommendations to government.

Let’s continue to smash the vaccination targets so all businesses can be open ahead of the Melbourne Cup weekend and into the Christmas trading period, which will be vital for many businesses to claw back some of the income they have lost throughout the six lockdowns.

It’s never been more important to shop local, whether that be in person or online. I am excited to get out and about and enjoy our fabulous state, and I hope you are too.

Enjoy the week ahead, and if you are able to reopen on Friday, I wish you the best of luck!

Regards,
Paul.

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