Retailers in New South Wales have declared the first day of reopening post-lockdown a “fantastic start” according to the sector’s national representative, although the condition shoppers must prove their vaccination status has been a slight road bump for some.
Overall Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said the mood has been positive, with excited and mostly compliant and respectful behaviour observed as itchy feet made their way back into stores.
“It’s been a fantastic start,” Zahra said.
“NSW Retailers are relieved and excited to be open and customers are out and about taking full advantage of Freedom Day privileges – with hairdressers and beauty therapy one of the most popular destinations.
“Naturally there were a few teething problems today with vaccine certification, with some customers still unsure how to access their certificate. However, most people have remained patient and overall, it’s been surprisingly smooth.”
Zahra said the day’s efforts are a credit to retailers and their teams, and also to the NSW government in keeping the roadmap on track. Pleasingly, there has been an overwhelming spirit of collaboration amongst shoppers.
“It’s taken enormous effort on the part of NSW government and businesses to reach today’s milestone – and we can be proud of the results,” Zahra said.
“Today’s outcome is a great test-case for Victoria and we can feel confidently optimistic of a positive experience when retail reopens there.”
Zahra also encouraged retailers to ensure they are well-prepared for operating in this transitional period.
“Checking vaccination status is a new safety protocol and like QR codes it will take a little time for customers to adjust. Naturally, this will be an even smoother experience when the NSW COVID Safe app is integrated,” he said.
“Retailers need to ensure they have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure compliance and this includes things such as having clear signage at the entrance points and through the store, and training staff in how to check vaccination status.
“Businesses should also have completed and updated their Covid safety plans which help inform government that they have thought about and taken their reasonable steps.”
Updated at 4.40pm AEDT on 11 October 2021.
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