The situation in our second biggest state, Victoria, is one of despair at the moment. As the state nears the end of its six-week lockdown which has seen stage four restrictions in Melbourne, the State Government has started consulting on a road back for business. An announcement is due to be made on Sunday.
Dealers rightfully point to some of the unique features of their businesses. Their vast facilities, relatively low volumes of foot traffic and adoption of mitigation measures mean that they are well placed to open their businesses in a way that does not jeopardise the health of their employees or customers.
The alternative to loosening these restrictions will be catastrophic. The new car sales figures in August show a decline in sales of almost 66% in Victoria, almost certainly the biggest month on month decline ever experienced in the state and significantly worse than the 53% percent reduction experienced in April when we thought we’d hit the bottom.
The confusion around under what circumstances Dealers can allow customers into their workshops is also hurting. While the Federal Government has come to the party with JobKeeper that can only go so far for businesses who have little to no income.
The AADA has been participating in consultations with the Victorian State Government and has been working with the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce as well as other key industry associations in the automotive sector. The message is simple – we can safely open our doors to customers under the necessary COVID-safe parameters and should be allowed to do so.
We need to learn to live with this pandemic. There is just no way of knowing when a vaccine will be available. Every day businesses being forced to close will undermine the much-needed recovery and threaten the survival of businesses and jobs.
We know we are in the midst of a pandemic and our leaders are concerned for the health and safety of the community. But prolonged lockdowns will only threaten more misery. We need our leaders to trust the businesses who employ millions of Australians and create the economic activity that sustains the economy.