Bunnings has called for the hardware sector to be classified as an essential service after Melbourne was plunged into a Stage 4 lockdown on Sunday.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a state of disaster after the state’s horror week of COVID-19 cases, including another 671 new infections on Sunday.
Residents are banned from leaving their homes between 8pm and 5am unless they are going out for work, giving or receiving care, or visiting a partner. A shut-down of all non-essential stores is being considered with further restrictions expected to be announced soon.
Bunnings MD, Michael Schneider said its products are vital to essential services and its doors should remain open.
Mr Schneider said he is waiting for the Victorian government to respond to his request around trading during the latest restrictions.
‘Home improvement retailers worldwide have been classed as essential as our industry plays an important role in providing necessary products for customers to keep their homes and businesses safe and secure.’
He also explained that it would help keep small businesses running with products for urgent repairs and maintenance.
He stressed that their number one priority is looking after customers and staff in store with strict social distancing measures being enforced.
Metcash, which supplies the largest independent network of hardware retailers, including Mitre 10 and Home Timber and Hardware, has joined the plea.
On behalf of its members, it has urged the embattled Victorian Premier to make sure the hardware sector can stay open to help keep everyone safe.
‘Our stores are a key provider of what’s necessary in terms of safety for the population, that includes products like masks, cleaning and hygiene products,’ said a spokesperson.
The hardware chain said it provides vital products to regional and rural Victoria and stopping those that supply chain would greatly impact farmers who supply the country’s food.
Shoppers go to Bunnings and Mitre 10 for things like painting, gardening and maintenance projects to stay busy during lockdown, but Mr Schneider says it is more about people’s mental health.
He sits on the board of a not for profit organisation called Love Me Love You which focuses on providing programs that help challenge the stigma of mental health.
‘We understand the important role those in this industry play in keeping the community active when at home, for big and small projects as well as the very positive physical and mental health benefits that come from the sense of achievement from getting things done around the home,’ he explained.