Macaulay: There is no essential list

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PVCA CEO Andrew Macaulay wants printers to know there is no government essential service list, with the association nonetheless lobbying government to ensure that the critical nature of print and packaging to all supply chains in our economy is known, and should form part of policy planning.

Impact yet to be felt: Covid-19 
No essential services list: Covid-19

Macaulay said, “There are many rumours in the market about essential business certification to allow operation if there should be a tighter Covid-19 quarantine declared. None of the rumours have any substance to them. There is no certification process.”

The PVCA points to the government's numerous stimulus packages, including the $1500 wage assistance, saying that there is no doubt the government is committed to keeping the economy open.

Macaulay said, “The status quo is that all businesses that are not restricted are essential. The Prime Minister himself has said this. The situation may change, we do live in fluid times. The National Cabinet is meeting often, and amending plans constantly.

“It is worth noting that each of the states have this week passed legislation aimed at limiting public movement. All of these new state laws include an explicit exemption for travel to work, and assembling at work. This implies that business will continue.

Neither print nor packaging is on the Australian Government restricted list, which mainly includes social enterprises.  Consequently, print and packaging are by definition not restricted so long as the business meets the requirement to operate within the Department of Health safe workplace rules (less than 100 people in building, more than four square metres per person, more than 1.5 metres between people, washing hands, sanitising surfaces).

PVCA has sent all members a pro forma letter to assist them validate that they are a critical link in an essential industry supply chain, and also a pro forma staff travel document. This is to assist members in preparing for any tightening of business activity, within as predictable a pathway as exists.

Printers in Australia looking over the ditch are seeing the Kiwi print industry in lockdown – they are on Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions – with only daily newspapers and some packaging print being on their essential services list. Magazines are banned, with the country's biggest publisher Bauer Media shutting up shop completely yesterday.

Macaulay said, “The Australian government's position is clear, you don't spend $130bn on the JobKeeper programme with the intention of closing industry. However, we are pressing on the government the reality that print is an essential service, it is at the heart of the economy, and is a vital service, and we will continue to do so. For now though the decision whether to keep business running or suspend it is in the hands of print business owners and managers themselves.”

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