This week, after Melbourne’s second lockdown of Stage Three restrictions failed to flatten the COVID-19 case spike, the city implemented Australia’s strictest pandemic restrictions to date.
Stage Four restrictions, along with the recently implemented mandatory face mask rule, have now been applied to all local government areas of the metropolitan Melbourne area. These new restrictions mean more businesses have had to shut down, more restrictions on where, why and how many times people are allowed to leave their homes, and also a curfew from 8pm to 5am every day.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, said: “We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever. It is not an easy decision to make but it is necessary and that’s why I’ve made it.”
Melbourne liquor retailers count themselves lucky to not be included in the range of retail businesses that have now been forced to shut down. The Acting CEO of Retail Drinks Australia, Michael Waters, said it shows how the positive impact of advocacy, that has highlighted the continued compliance and responsible moves from retailers in the city.
“As confirmed by the Victorian Premier earlier this week, liquor stores are able to continue operating under the Stage Four restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne. This positive policy outcome is the result of extensive advocacy and lobbying efforts by Retail Drinks with the Victorian Government over the past several weeks,” Waters said.
“Retail Drinks is currently working with the Department of Justice and Community Safety in regards to the exact nature of how trading hours are affected by the curfew requirements and will be updating Members accordingly once this information is confirmed.
“In the meantime, Retail Drinks urges all liquor retailers to practice social distancing in-store wherever practically possible and in accordance with its Social Distancing Guidelines for Retail Liquor Stores issued last month.”
Retailers in Melbourne have adapted quickly to Stage Four, maintaining stock, protecting staff and serving customers in a COVIDSafe manner.
Gavin Saunders, CEO of Liquor Marketing Group (LMG) said: “LMG is working with members to support with changed operating conditions, including getting staff home before curfew. The partnership with our suppliers, including ALM warehouse, has seen extraordinary adaption and effort to maintain supply and keep all safe.”
With recent restrictions, e-commerce and delivery options have been quickly adapted by LMG members in Melbourne, and Saunders noted the example of the new Harry Brown Craigieburn store.
“In a short period of time, Harry Brown Craigieburn’s e-commerce has grown to provide some trading days sales through e-commerce equal to the in-store volumes, resulting in it being one of the leading LMG e-commerce stores in the country. The adoption by customers of the LMG e-commerce platform during COVID-19 has been a strong result for LMG members, and our fantastic one-hour delivery service to our customers removes the need to leave home in challenging times,” Saunders said.
Endeavour Drinks has also made changes to store hours across BWS and Dan Murphy’s in Melbourne, while increasing delivery drivers in the area and providing multiple contactless purchase solutions across both physical and online retail brands.
An Endeavour spokesperson said: “Our Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores in Melbourne have introduced reduced trading hours to align with the Victorian Government curfew announced on Sunday. Our stores will be closing at 7.45pm, with the latest time customers are allowed to enter stores being 7.30pm.
“Our stores also offer contactless pickup and delivery. There is no need for panic buying as there is plenty of stock available.”
Coles Liquor, meanwhile, has been building from the moves it’s made throughout the pandemic, which include occupancy limits, perspex barriers at registers and floor decals for social distancing.
Coles Liquor General Manager, Steve Hugginson, said: “We are also restricting use of some of our registers to ensure social distancing can be maintained and have increased credit and debit card limits to enable contactless payment for customers. We encourage our customers to pack their own product to limit handling of stock between team members and customers.”
At National Liquor News, our hearts are with retailers in Melbourne at this incredibly challenging time.