Prime minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that shopping centres will remain open while tightening restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings including real estate auctions and open houses.
The prime minister announced a range of further restrictions following a national cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Beauty salons, auctions, open houses, galleries and museums were included on the list of banned businesses forced to close from midnight Wednesday. Hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to stay open, with strict social distancing measures in place.
Shopping centre food courts will be allowed to continue to serve takeaway.
The prime minister said that rent relief measures will be on the national cabinet meeting agenda on Wednesday.
“The states have the legislative authority when it comes to tenancies, both commercial and residential, and the Commonwealth has other incentives and levers it can pull to support and enable that chain of businesses who are caught up in that process where people are under rental stress,” Morrison said.
The latest announcement may clarify some uncertainty for shopping centre landlords facing the prospect of partial to complete closure of their malls.
Consumer confidence figures released this week showed the index plummeting 27.8 per cent to its lowest levels since the global financial crisis.
The news was even worse for retailers, with the “time to buy a major household item” category falling by 37 per cent.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said that Tuesday’s stage two measures will be followed by a “stage three”.
“Last night, the prime minister went through the details of stage two restrictions on non-essential venues and activities.
“We don’t take these actions lightly but to put it bluntly: if we don’t slow this thing down, we won’t just have people waiting in line for Centrelink—we’ll have people waiting in line for machines to help them breathe.”
The national cabinet will meet again on Wednesday evening.