Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced to the state yesterday that it could enter the second step of reopening in his roadmap out of Stage 4 lockdowns.
Following falling case numbers, the Premier gave the all clear for the state to enter the second stage which sees the curfew lifted, 127,000 people return to work and the amount of people allowed to go shopping eased.
However, retail will have to remain closed until the next stage, which is set to come into effect on October 19 - one week earlier than initially scheduled.
Retail adjacent industries in manufacturing, wholesale trade, postal and distribution services were allowed to return to work today though, helping to support the eCommerce operations of many retailers which have seen their online sales boom.
Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said that the news that distribution centres can return to normal operating levels is welcome news to retailers.
"The ARA has been intensely calling for this outcome for a number of weeks as a top priority to ease congestion for retailers in the build-up to the critical Christmas trading period.
"As Victoria is a central point for distribution and freight for many national operations, getting these centres back to capacity now will have an impact not only on the retail industry in Victoria, but nationally," he said.
However, Zahra added that the industry remains concerned about being closed until mid-October.
"We are pleased to see infection rates significantly reduced and note that the current levels are equal to or lower than infection levels within NSW during August when retail was open in that state.
"We remain deeply concerned about the closure of retail until mid to late October at the earliest – that is simply too close to Christmas trading to allow viable retail activity.
"We also look forward to more financial support being made available to Melbourne metropolitan retailers whose businesses have been devastated by these prolonged closures.
"The Premier has indicated that budget announcements will deliver some further support.
"The current measures are only adequate for small retailers.
"And without further assistance for the larger businesses, we unfortunately could see many store closures," he said.
Upon opening and operating under a COVID-safe plan, employers in some sectors now have additional obligations, including regular surveillance testing of staff, nightly deep cleaning, separating workers into consistent bubbles and providing regular training for their workers.