THE property, retail and hospitality industries are welcoming the NSW state government’s announcement of easing COVID-19 restrictions for the fully vaccinated, come October.
The government’s roadmap to reopening is planned to coincide with the state reaching its target of 70% double vaccinations amongst over 16-year olds, which is currently on track for October 18, with parts of regional NSW set to open this Saturday.
Along with allowing in home and public gatherings, the eased restrictions will allow multiple sectors reopen operations, including hospitality, retail, entertainment and sporting and recreation facilities.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) hailed the news as creating hope and further certainty for businesses who have been struggling under that state’s health orders, particularly hair and beauty salons and small businesses.
“We appreciate this has been an incredibly difficult time for the small business community in particular, but there is hope on the horizon and today’s roadmap is a welcome relief,” said Paul Zahra, CEO of ARA.
Zahra stressed that the timing of the reopening will be a significant relief for retail operations, with the Christmas’s shopping season approaching, wherein most discretionary retailers pull in two-thirds of their years profits.
“Domestic travel to regional NSW will also be allowed under the reopening plan, which will provide a much-needed boost to regional businesses and tourism operators who’ve been severely impacted by the stay-at-home orders in Greater Sydney that have been in place for nearly three months,” added Zahra.
Likewise, ClubsNSW has also praised the plans and urged all club patrons, suppliers and employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to ensure the swift reopening.
“If you can’t wait to get back to your local club for a meal and a drink with your friends and family, now is the time to get vaccinated,” said Josh Landis, CEO of ClubsNSW.
Many clubs are currently offering staff and community members incentives to get vaccinated, such as gift vouchers, meat raffles, cab charges and free meals.
“We are itching to get our employees back to work and allow clubs to resume supporting their local sporting teams, charities and other community groups — and the fastest way to do that is by getting jabs in arms,” added Landis.
Meanwhile, the Property Council Australia has released its monthly office occupancy survey, revealing Sydney’s CBD occupancy is sitting at just 4% of pre-COVID levels.
While in other locked down CBDs Melbourne and Canberra are also experiencing limited occupancy, at a respective 7% and 8% of pre-COVID levels.
Brisbane and Adelaide CBD’s however, have recovered to 60% and 65% of pre-COVID levels respectively.
While the majority of respondents felt they don’t expect to see material increases in CBD office occupancy levels in the next three months, at least across NSW the plans for reopening should create a more optimistic outlook.
“We know that lockdowns are having a big impact on our CBDs, but it is encouraging to see that once lockdowns are lifted workers are returning at faster rates than we recorded in 2020,” said Ken Morrison, chief executive of Property Council of Australia.