The South Australian Independent Retailers Association has commended the state’s COVID-19 response but says government “can’t afford to leave businesses behind” in future consultation.  

South Australia’s six-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown was lifted early last week after officials found a close contact linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar deliberately misled the contact tracing team.

The Premier had imposed lockdown restrictions across the state on Wednesday 18 November, which took effect from Thursday 19 November; in an effort to help the state bring a COVID-19 cluster under control.

It was announced at the time that petrol stations and supermarkets, including convenience stores, could continue to trade, however, pubs, cafes, coffee shops and takeaway food outlets were among a wide range of facilities that closed.

Restrictions were lifted three days early, with retailers returning to trade from midnight Sunday 22 November.

Colin Shearing, CEO of the South Australian Independent Retailers, praised the actions undertaken by the state government, SA Health and SAPOL, but told C&I retailers were not given any notice to prepare for the lockdown, with supply chains and jobs placed under “immense pressure.”

“I believe the lockdown was warranted at the time and based on the evidence we had to do it. I commend and support the government, SAPOL and SA Health for the decisions that they made. However, businesses and retailers were not consulted by government or given any time to prepare or put ay contingency plans in place.”

The lockdown also sparked panic buying across the state, with shoppers flocking to convenience stores and supermarkets, which Shearing said was “short lived but predicted”, despite warnings from officials.

“The government must consult with business early. They can’t afford to leave business behind in their consultation. To throw something at business within hours is not appropriate,” Shearing said.

“I understand they have to act swiftly, and decisions are made on the day, but leaders of industry need to be informed so that we can put in place actions that don’t spook the community and prepare us better.

“Planning is extremely crucial to small business, and small business can network quickly with each other, but they weren’t given time. We need to be all working together.”

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