COVID-19 Industry Update #5

< Date: 23 March 2020

March 23, 2020 

It is clear from the Prime Minister’s announcement last night that a staged lockdown is needed to manage the spread of COVID-19, and that a minority of Australians if left to their own devices are not following well publicised measures placing the health of fellow Australians at risk.  

For now, business premises such as offices, factories, retail dealerships, and caravan parks are considered essential services and shall remain open. 

It is advised that businesses with enclosed spaces such as meeting rooms, office space and the like observe the 4 sq metre guidelines, while also practicing social distancing measures within workplaces.  Further announcements last night mean that facilities with licenced areas, cafes, restaurants etc within them must close these facilities to the general public (except for takeaway purposes) until further notice.

We have already seen travel restrictions for people entering Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia, and we are awaiting statements from the Premiers in Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales in the coming days.  This may also extend to businesses over and above that which was agreed by the National Cabinet and announced by the Prime Minister last night.

We estimate that there are currently 75,000 people in Australia today away from their normal place of residence or using an RV as their permanent home.  This is on top of the tens of thousands who call caravan parks home.  It is therefore vital that caravan parks remain an essential service, to give individual operators the ability to make their own decision on whether to open or otherwise.  This choice was taken away from some businesses in the broader Australian community last night (eg pubs, clubs, restaurants, entertainment precincts etc) in Stage One of planned shut-downs announced by the Prime Minister.

We strongly encourage that all businesses, but in particular caravan parks, maintain a register of all visitors (not just primary contact) for the purposes of contact tracing of necessary.  Caravan parks should also consider the closing or limiting access to common facilities such as amenity blocks, camp kitchens, swimming pools and the like.

We have heard from many businesses regarding the difficulties and interruption to business which these travel restrictions have caused and the potential future interruption which may occur, on the back of an already devastating summer and slow retail market.  We applaud the Government for their economic packages designed to assist industry businesses with their working capital but fear for some that this might not be enough.  We will continue to advocate for the industry during these very tough times.

It is also clear that we must deal with the current crisis as it develops as well as make preparations for a strong and early response to encourage Australians to go caravanning and camping when it is safe to do so.  The continued uncertainty around international travel and cruising presents a market opportunity for Australians which still consider caravanning and camping to be highly aspirational.  To this end, we are meeting weekly with our state association colleagues to make sure that knowledge is shared, communication and advice is consistent, and that we are prepared in a co-ordinated manner to heavily invest in market stimulus activity when the current health crisis eases.

We will provide further advice when this comes to hand.  In the meantime, please find a link to recent transcript of the Prime Minister’s press conferences containing advice.