Retailers slam uncertainty in Qld shopping

The National Retail Association has cited inconsistencies in Queensland's health directives.
The National Retail Association has cited inconsistencies in Queensland's health directives.

A major retail body has criticised the Queensland government over a lack of clarity about which stores and shopping is essential.

With Queensland now in its fourth day of lockdown, retail workers and industry representatives have been left confused about directives from the government as to which shops are essential and who should and shouldn't be working.

Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young has asked Queenslanders to consider whether they need to online shop or click and collect, reinforcing the stay-at-home message.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles reiterated the point, highlighting the need to only leave home for essential goods.

"You can't go out because you need milk, but stop to look at EB Games or JB Hi-Fi," he said.

But the National Retail Association has cited inconsistencies in the government's health directives since the lockdown started.

"On Monday and Tuesday, shoppers were being urged to use online shopping to reduce the number of shoppers in stores," NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb said.

"Today, the official advice is to avoid online shopping to reduce the number of delivery workers in the community."

The NRA believes the government is catching up on an issue that should have been ratified when a decision for lockdown loomed, and "contradictory advice" is leaving business owners guessing.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli says he acknowledges Dr Young's comments and uncertainty with retailers, but Queenslanders want clarity from the state's leaders.

"There will always be a grey area, but when you don't try and spell out a little bit of black and white it leads to red-hot anger, and that's what we're feeling at the moment in the community," he said on Wednesday.

"The government also needs to provide some certainty and that stops with the minister and the deputy premier, to be a hell of a lot clearer on what an essential worker is and what an essential businesses is.

"If it takes a slightly longer press conference for the government to go through and explain a few things and provide a little bit more certainty, that will help along the journey."

Greens MP Michael Berkman says workers from his electorate are uncertain and worried about working through the lockdown.

He says lockdown rules imply any business which isn't explicitly prohibited is essential could result in people making non-essential shopping trips at the centre of the outbreak, and put powerless workers at risk.

"This kind of confusing situation can lead to uneven or discriminatory police responses and undermine public trust in the lockdown," he said.

Gold Coast small business Leina and Fleur is one of many around the state concerned with the language used to classify essential businesses.

Co-owner Fleur Richardson says online shopping is paramount to keeping her business alive.

"If everyone stopped online shopping overnight we would not have a business at all," she told AAP.

"We really want to get clarity not only for ourselves, but for our staff because there's a real fearmongering around the language sometimes."

On Wednesday, Queensland Health released a list of essential retailers including supermarkets, food outlets, pharmacies and petrol stations as well as electronics, basic clothing and hardware retailers.

While the directives also encourage operations in a way that facilitates minimal or no contact with the community, there remains uncertainty as the list is a guide and "not limited to".

Australian Associated Press