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Myer strikes back with five Queensland stores to reopen this week

Business

Department store Myer will open the doors to five of its Queensland stores this week in a trial it hopes could lead to openings in other states.

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The retail giant closed all of its stores and stood down about 10,000 staff without pay on March 29 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Its online services remained open.

Stores at Chermside, Carindale, North Lakes, Townsville and Toowoomba will open from Friday.

Cleaning in store will be increased, while hand sanitiser, faces masks and gloves will be available to staff, sneeze guards installed at registers and social distancing signposted.

However, beauty appointments, intimate apparel, suit and shoe fittings will remain suspended.

“Our priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of our customers and team members and to assist and support governments in limiting the spread of COVID-19,” a Myer spokesperson said.

Myer’s announcement came as businesses have been urged to make workplaces coronavirus-safe in preparation for a major economic restart.

National cabinet has set a July target to reignite business and industry with federal and state leaders looking to stem the pandemic-induced economic bleeding.

The Safe Work Australia website has been turbocharged to provide specific advice to 23 sectors across 1300 pages.

Cleaning standards and maintaining physical distancing to limit the spread of the virus are among the most important requirements.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said staggered hours were one way to reduce contact as people return to work.

“We don’t want everybody crowding on public transport at the same time,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“We don’t want everyone crowding in the lifts at the beginning of the day and the end of the day.”

Murphy said cleaning products and hand sanitiser should be in workplaces, while hot-desk arrangements would need to change.

He also said using video conferencing where possible and maintaining the handshake ban would be important.

Businesses will also be given advice on managing potential outbreaks and reconfiguring sites to meet health standards.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed the importance of coronavirus-safe workplaces as the nation looks to repair economic damage.

Shutdown measures are estimated to cost $4 billion a week nationally.

“We now need to get one million Australians back to work. That is the curve we need to address,” Morrison said.

Some economic and social restrictions are set to be eased on Friday after the next meeting of federal and state leaders.

“When we ease these restrictions, you will see numbers increase in some areas. You will see outbreaks occur in other places. That is to be expected,” Morrison said.

“What matters is how you deal with it.”

Unions are pushing for businesses to be compelled to provide virus-safe environments, but Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter believes existing laws force employers to comply.

There have been 97 coronavirus deaths in Australia, while more than 5800 people have recovered from the disease.

Testing rates are high, with 665,000 conducted and 6849 infections detected.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand are forging ahead with plans to create a special travel zone in coming months.

While not expected within weeks, the resumption of trans-Tasman routes will be the first reopening of Australia’s international borders.

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