Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has stood down another 250,000 workers under unprecedented lockdown restrictions which will close all professional services offices, most retail shops and drastically limit manufacturing and construction.

“These are very severe and dramatic restrictions,” Mr Scott told The Australian Financial Review. “There will be a very significant reduction in not only employment but in hours worked,” he said, as the group sought clarification over several of the new rules.
Victoria recorded 429 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and 13 new deaths, with eight of those deaths linked to aged-care facilities.
Banks, travel stocks and shopping centre owners suffered after the announcement, with the banks down between 1.8 per cent and 4.1 per cent, Flight Centre fell 6.6 per cent and Scentre Group dropped 5.6 per cent.
Under the changes published online by the Financial Review ahead of the announcement, supermarkets and grocery stores including the local fruit, butcher and baker shops will remain open, as will bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, news agencies, post offices and “of course, everybody involved in our frontline response”.
The national economic impact of todays draconian measures in Victoria will devastate the livelihoods of millions in the state.
Innes Willox, Ai Group chief executive
Businesses will have to close from midnight on Wednesday, while those allowed to continue under tough new rules will have to “enact a COVID-safe plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace”.
Mr Andrews said the government would unveil a permit system this week which would allow essential workers to explain to police why they were further than 5 kilometres from their home, required under stage-four restrictions, or out past an unprecedented 8pm curfew which began on Sunday night.
However, the shutdown went much further than many were expecting, including that large commercial building sites of more than three storeys will not be able to have more than 25 per cent of their workforce.
For residential construction, it will be unlawful to have more than five people on site at any one time in what Premier Andrews described as “moving to a pilot-light phase”.
Residential construction already under way and construction of critical infrastructure or that connected to essential services can continue, as can essential services generally, such as electricity, gas, water, waste and telecommunications.
The essential list also includes bank branches and critical banking services to support the provision of services, credit and payments. However, the banking industry is seeking further clarification of the changes amid significant uncertainty.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank chief executive Marnie Baker said the changes might lead to “branch closures or a reduction in hours in some circumstances, if this is considered an appropriate precaution.
Melbourne’s public transport will continue during the lockdown, but services will be dramatically reduced.
Meatworks are also being put into a pilot-light phase, which means “whether it be lamb, poultry or beef, they will move to two-thirds production, so they will reduce their production by one-third. And those workplaces will look very different,” Mr Andrews said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also described the Victorian decision as “heartbreaking” and a “devastating blow”, as he announced a $1500 a fortnight pandemic leave payment and Mr Andrews admitted it would “take years” for the Victorian economy to recover.
“These are heartbreaking decisions but there simply was no choice,” Mr Andrews told a dramatic press conference just after 3pm on Monday, which sent business scrambling for information about the changes.
The Premier said around 1 million Victorians would not be going to their place of work under the new restrictions.
The state government estimated around 250,000 people have already been stood down and are not going to work.
About 500,000 are working from home, and another 250,000 workers will be forced to stay home under Monday’s announced changes.
However, the changes are expected to deliver a devastating impact for the retail sector where restaurants, cafes, beauty parlours, gyms, hairdressers and car dealerships are among those businesses which will be forced to close.
Retailing billionaire Solomon Lew, chairman of ASX-listed Premier Investment whose stores include Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Dotti, Smiggle and Peter Alexander, said Mr Andrews had waited too long.
“In my view the Andrews government should have moved faster to tighten restrictions. Delaying has only placed further pressure on the rest of the country and the national economy,” he said.
“We expect significant consequences from the inaction, in particular, vast amounts of cost in federal government stimulus that is going to be required to support the Victorian community through this challenging period.”
Mr Andrews announced Melbourne metro businesses would receive a further $5000 grant, on top of an initial $5000 grant when lockdown 2.0 was announced, and an earlier $10,000 grant from lockdown 1.0.
“It will finish up being in aggregate terms, first and second wave payments, in the order of $20,000 together with a number of other waivers of taxes and charges, and for some businesses, many businesses, all of those really significant payroll tax refunds,” he said.
However, business groups including the Ai Group warned the restrictions would be devastating for employers and their staff.
The national economic impact of todays draconian measures in Victoria will devastate the livelihoods of millions in the state, Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said.
Closing or restricting large swaths of manufacturing and construction as well as their supply chains brings the hammer down on sectors that have been responsible for relatively little transmission, which have followed strict COVID-safe plans and are vital to the community and the countrys economic well-being.
Many Victorian businesses operate and supply goods and services across borders and the restrictions on well over 20 per cent of Australias economic activity will have massive flow-on implications across the nation,’ he said.
“Many businesses will struggle to reopen after the minimum six weeks of these restrictions and closures. The future of their employees is now uncertain.”
The head of Ai Group in Victoria, Tim Piper, said: The total Victorian supply chain has not been fully considered in the structure of these restrictions. Companies such as metal fabricators which support the food sector, health and related activities have been told to close.
“While there are some narrow exceptions there has been no recognition of how interconnected these businesses are.
The gaps in the supply chain created by these closures and restrictions will inevitably be met by interstate companies. This may numb some of the national implications but will be cold comfort for businesses and their Victorian employees if customers are lost permanently.