BRISBANE, Australia — A significant retail body has criticized the Queensland government for clarity about which stores and shopping are essential.
With Queensland now in its fourth day of lockdown, retail workers and industry representatives have been left confused about directives from the government as to which shops are essential and who should and should not be working.
Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young has asked Queenslanders to consider whether they need an online shop or click and collect, reinforcing the stay-at-home message.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles reiterated the point, highlighting the need to only leave home for essential goods.
“You cannot go out because you need milk, but stop to look at EB Games or JB Hi-Fi,” he said.
But the National Retail Association has cited inconsistencies in the government’s health directives since the lockdown started.
“On Monday and Tuesday, shoppers were being urged to use online shopping to reduce the number of shoppers in stores,” said Dominique Lamb, chief executive of the National Retail Association.
“Today, the official advice is to avoid online shopping to reduce the number of delivery workers in the community.”
The National Retail Association is a not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of retailers across Australia.
The National Retail Association believes the government is catching up on an issue that should have been ratified when a decision for lockdown loomed, and “contradictory advice” is leaving business owners guessing.
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli acknowledged Young’s comments and uncertainty with retailers, but Queenslanders want clarity from the state’s leaders.
“There will always be a grey area, but when you don’t try and spell out a little bit of black and white, it leads to red-hot anger, and that’s what we’re feeling at the moment in the community,” he said.
“The government also needs to provide some certainty, and that stops with the minister and the deputy premier, to be a hell of a lot clearer on what an essential worker is and what an essential business is. If it takes a slightly longer press conference for the government to go through and explain a few things and provide a little bit more certainty, that will help along the journey.”
Member of Parliament for Greens Michael Berkman said workers from his electorate are uncertain and worried about working through the lockdown.
He said lockdown rules imply any business which isn’t explicitly prohibited is “essential” could result in people making non-essential shopping trips at the center of the outbreak and put powerless workers at risk.
“This kind of confusing situation can lead to uneven or discriminatory police responses and undermine public trust in the lockdown,” he said.
Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra
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