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Coronavirus disaster: Wesfarmers wants Victoria lockdown reviewed in weeks

Victoria’s economy-crippling stage four coronavirus restrictions should be reviewed within weeks to see of large retailers can open up, Wesfarmers says.

Weeks of stay-home restrictions and compulsory mask-wearing directives have failed to stem the spread of the deadly virus in the State, forcing the Victorian Government to introduce a harsher lockdown this week.

Among the restrictions, retail outside of supermarkets, grocery stores and bottle shops will have to close or move to online shopping only.

Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott
Camera IconWesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

“There’s an opportunity in a very measured, risk-based way, that we review this over the coming weeks as the New Zealand government did as they worked through their lockdown,” Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott told Radio National on Tuesday.

He said the company’s large-format stores such as Bunnings and Officeworks were better placed to have customers in store because they could spread out.

“I’m hopeful that in the coming weeks as we start to see the demand coming from coming from households and families for additional products and as we as we try and reduce the devastating toll this is going to place on household budgets that we can find a way to keep product flowing in a safe way,” Mr Scott said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a 'State of Disaster' and increased restrictions for Victoria.
Camera IconVictorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a ‘State of Disaster’ and increased restrictions for Victoria. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Wesfarmers has about 25,000 retail workers in Victoria and some will be diverted to work in click-and-collect but others face being stood down.

Mr Scott said Wesfarmers had two weeks pay in place for such workers but after that the workers would need to look at government subsidies.

Victoria’s stage four lockdown is expected to run until at least September 13 — six weeks away.

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