News National The surprising places considered ‘essential services’ during coronavirus shutdown
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The surprising places considered ‘essential services’ during coronavirus shutdown

Hairdressing salons are still open in Australia after a shutdown of non-essential services. Photo: Getty
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As the coronavirus infects an increasing number of Australians, seemingly harmless activities have been branded potentially lethal and shut down as non-essential services.

Nightclubs, pubs, cinemas, casinos, sport centres, gyms and places of religious worship are now closed.

Restaurants are restricted to takeaways and deliveries.

The announcements on Sunday night and Monday morning whipped shoppers into a frenzy – with the focus of panic-buying suddenly turning on booze, sports equipment and DIY hardware.

But it’s emerged that despite the wave of tough new restrictions designed to stave off the virus, there are some surprising business names on the ‘to remain open’ list – for now.

Be warned though: As an expert in the field of infectious diseases argues below, just because you can go to one of these places doesn’t mean you should.

The Bottle-O

Bottle shops will stay open and will continue online deliveries.

But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it was not an excuse to “have all your mates round to your home and get on the beers”.

“That’s not appropriate,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Monday.

“It’s not essential, it’s not needed, and all it will do is spread the virus.”

He said last week, about a dozen people attended a dinner party – one of whom had the coronavirus – and by the end of the night, almost everyone had contracted it.

“This spreads rapidly,” Mr Andrews said.

“If people simply behave as normal, if they don’t take this seriously, if they act selfishly, then people will die. I can’t be any clearer than that.”

Hairdressing  and beauty salons

Stop. Put down the scissors – you can still get your hair cut.

You can also get your legs waxed or your nails manicured, too.

Hairdressing and beauty salons remain open, even though it is impossible for workers to do their jobs without breaching social distancing rules that demand we stand 1.5 metres apart.

Physiotherapy and osteopathy clinics

Allied health workers like physiotherapists, osteopaths, psychologists and dietitians can keep working during the lockdown of non-essential services, Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed on Monday.

Some businesses might close anyway if they decide it is necessary to limit the transmission of COVID-19.

Allied Health Professions Australia spokesman Philipp Herrmann said these services would continue offering face-to-face appointments when safe to do so, but many would switch to online or phone-based telehealth services in coming weeks.

Bunnings

You can still go to Bunnings hardware stores if you need to pick up supplies, but you won’t find any sizzling snags.

As a safety precaution, Bunnings’ sausages in bread have been taken off the menu.

DIY workshops and children’s play areas have also been cancelled to limit the spread of the virus.

Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider told The New Daily on Monday shops would remain open and the company had ramped up cleaning, including of equipment such as trolleys.

He said stores were implementing social distancing measures and providing materials including hand sanitiser and gloves.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

“Personally I’d stay away,” Bill Bowtell, a strategic health policy adviser and Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales, told The New Daily. 

“People love to think ‘It’s not going to happen to me’, but the viruses don’t see it that way. They just wait until they can get into your body – and they’re very good at it.”

Professor Bowtell said the coronavirus could survive outside the body on moist surfaces and materials like paper and plastic.

“Everything in a retail store is picked up and put down, whether it be at Bunnings, a bottle shop or a supermarket,” he said.

“You’d have to think the risk of picking up an infected surface, then touching your hands to your nose, face and eyes unconsciously, seems to be a pretty certain way of transmitting the virus.

“I’d hate to think how many times a bottle of wine is picked up and put back before you go on and buy it.”

Professor Bowtell said ideally there should be nobody on the streets at all.

“I think the place should be a ghost town,” he said.

“We need to act now, and sort out the rest later.”

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