This week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden ordered a four-week national lockdown in a bid to combat COVID-19.

The government declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, ahead of a Level 4 Alert to manage the pandemic.

Put simply, strict measures would force our neighbours across the ditch to stay at home and non-essential businesses to shutter their doors.

With no deaths and 283 infections in the country, is it a measure too strict?

"We have no time to waste," Arden declared, no doubt considering the consequences of a light-handed response.

While Australia's infection rate is equally not as sharp as Italy's, the number of cases is still doubling close to every three days.

And the uncertainty (read: softness) around our own approach, is doing more than stoking a healthcare crisis.

It's decimating bottom lines.

Deloitte Restructuring Services partner Vaughan Strawbridge is among those taking pre-emptive action.

Tasked with the voluntary administration of retail chain Colette By Colette Hayman, he has warned of an Australian fallout as he closes its 93 stores.

"These are extraordinary times, and there is also no certainty that many retail operators in Australia will be able to continue trading amidst so much uncertainty and with public health measures changing so frequently."

Retail giants Accent Group, Premier Investments, Cue Clothing Co and Sussan Group have also taken pre-emptive action, closing locations nationally ahead of a formal government mandate.


It's a question of survival: alongside the health implications of trading amid a pandemic, operating stores already deserted by social distancing is expensive business.

There are overheads, staffing costs and onorous rental obligations; the latter of which many retailers are re-negotiating or in Premier's instance, threatening to default on.

"These extraordinary circumstances mean Premier intends not to pay rent globally for the duration of the shutdown," the Solomon Lew-owned vertical said in a statement this week.

These are unprecedented times and there is little doubt our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is attempting to keep the economic engine running through this ordeal.

But uncertainty, like spooked investors in a stockmarket crash, is not the answer. The time for decisive action is now.

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