Victorians could be left without medicine, alcohol and school supplies after major businesses were closed by the state’s draconian COVID-19 lockdown.
Australia Post were told that it could keep open 200 outlets facing closure but the business is struggling to operate with just two thirds of its staff.
Chief executive Christine Holgate said there could be long delays as demand for deliveries soars amid Melbourne’s strict Stage 4 lockdown.
She said that demand in coronavirus-stricken suburbs was already up 200 per cent and orders from Chemist Warehouse, Dan Murphy’s and Office Works were under pressure.
Ms Holgate said Australia Post was responsible for deliveries for 200,000 online businesses and had a team of 21,000 people in Victoria.
‘All the major medical distribution centres are based in Victoria. API, Sigma – they supply pharmacies right across the country,’ Ms Holgate told the Australian Financial Review.
‘So this isn’t just about keeping Victorian businesses running and Victorians safe, we have to keep the whole country safe. We run the risk of being late getting important medicines out to those pharmacies.’
This week alone parcel deliveries grew by 20 per cent as Melburnians are required to stay at home under strict public health orders and most of the retail sector was shut down.
‘We’ve had every major customer calling saying ‘you are going to give us capacity aren’t you?” Ms Holgate said.
From midnight on Friday, distribution centres in Metropolitan Melbourne will need to comply to a string of new rules.
They mean all staff will be required to wear face masks and employees will have to carry out regular deep cleans.
The centres will also be required to have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.
As of Sunday, these warehouses will need to cut staff dramatically with Australia Post losing a third of team members.
Employees will also be unable to carpool to and from work, and will be required to tell management if they live with anyone working at a high-risk workplace.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he discussions would continue with Australia Post and other distribution businesses.
‘We have made provision for distribution centres of medical products, and we’re in constant conversation with each of those sectors and industries,’ Mr Andrews said on Friday.
‘The evidence is we’ve effectively done a carve-out for the supply chain around medicine and other important products that are directly linked to the care of people.’
Victoria recorded 450 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths on Friday.