Non-essential retail has returned to Melbourne, where hundreds of shoppers line up outside Kmart ahead of the reopening on Friday night.
The long-awaited reopening of non-essential retail in Melbourne was met with excitement on Friday night, with hundreds of people queuing to enter the shops at 1 p.m.
The scenes outside the Kmart stores across the Victorian capital were reminiscent of the end of the lockdown in Sydney, where crowds cheered and moved quickly forward to get inside after 260 days of retail restrictions.
It told shoppers in Doncaster Shopping Town A Current Affair that “it seemed like years” since they last visited Kmart, while another said, “there were so many people at the front door waiting for this to open”.
Reporter Seb Costello told host Deborah Knight that “even before the magic opening time at 6pm, there were queues out the door with shoppers excited to spend, spend, spend”.
Kmart CEO John Gualtieri told Sky News on Friday that he was “ecstatic” that retailers were returning to Melbourne, describing the city’s recent lockdown as a “challenge”.
“To say that we are ecstatic to reopen our doors in Melbourne tonight from 6pm would be an understatement,” he said.
The CEO said 90 new Kmart stores have been opened across Australia during the pandemic, bringing 15,000 new team members into the “Kmart family”.
After the “wild” scenes at Sydney’s reopening, the retailer cracked down on shoppers after implementing a series of measures to keep stores Covid-safe.
Shoppers have been asked to continue wearing a face mask unless they have a dispensation, practicing social distancing, disinfecting and checking in every time they visit a store, while “Covid Check in Marshals” will monitor customer numbers to ensure that the stores remain below the density limits.
Chadstone Shopping Center Manager Michael Whitehead told Herald Sun. the center’s reopening Friday night would look more like a New Year’s Eve.
“We kind of want to treat this a bit like a party, we have some great entertainment on the way,” he said.
“It will definitely be very exciting when the dealers open the shutters.
“We have extended the opening hours immediately to midnight tonight to ensure we can accommodate everyone in the safest way possible.”
With Victoria set to reach 80 percent double-dose vaccination today, Cabinet Secretary Danny Pearson said “the eased restrictions will come in … to ensure Victorians can make the most of this great long weekend”.
“We’re opening tonight, it’s a great thing, and we will not stop at 80 percent double-dose coverage, we will go by one percent every day until we reach 85. [per cent] and beyond, ”said Health Director Brett Sutton.
“I am very confident that 90 percent of the population will be fully vaccinated.”