Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Retailers allowed to remain open as federal, state govts introduce lockdown measures

Bookshops and other retailers can continue to trade under new lockdown measures announced by the federal government last night in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The NSW, ACT and Victorian state governments this morning announced additional measures to close down ‘non-essential services’ over the coming 48 hours. Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Egan told Books+Publishing he was waiting for clarification on whether the state guidelines would include a specific ruling on retailers such as bookshops, but that he was drafting a letter to request an exemption for bookshops in the event that state governments decide that bookshops come under the term ‘non-essential services’.

Egan said he knew of some bookshops that have decided to close their doors, and some that are trading ‘as best they can’ by introducing hygiene measures and floor markings to promote social distancing. ‘It’s a moral decision by owners with their staff; we shouldn’t be angry at people for doing either,’ said Egan.

Some bookshops, including Victoria-based Squishy Minnie, The Leaf Bookshop and Farrells, have announced they would close their shopfronts either today or tomorrow, with most ensuring their online shops will remain open. Others, including Geelong’s The Book Bird, ACT bookshop Paperchain and Candelo Books in Bega, NSW are remaining open at this stage.

Egan also pointed to the situation in the UK, where both Waterstones and Blackwell’s announced over the weekend that they would close their respective physical shops, after staff expressed serious concerns about their own and customers’ safety on social media. In the US, iconic New York City bookshop The Strand has laid off 188 booksellers.


Category: Local news