Thousands of retail workers across the country have lost their jobs after major brands announced doors would close, including in Ballarat.
Retail in Ballarat is the second biggest employer after healthcare and social assistance, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Figures from November 2019 indicate about 9400 people are employed in the sector.
In a press release on Thursday morning, Premier Investments, which owns Just Jeans, Smiggle, Portmans, Peter Alexander, JayJays, JacquiE, and Dotti, announced its stores will close on Thursday evening.
"Regrettably, this means all employees in Australia are to be stood down, except for a small number of employees required to perform limited essential work," the statement reads.
"This means our team members will not attend work and will not be paid.
"We have put in place special arrangements for employees to access accrued annual and long service leave entitlements to reduce the impact over this time."
Executives will work from home without pay.
The business also intends to not pay any rent for the duration of the shutdown - an update will be provided by April 22.
Flight Centre has also announced it will stand down the majority of its workforce during the crisis, and dozens of other retail brands have announced closures.
In Ballarat, these stores are primarily in big shopping centres - a spokesperson for Stockland Wendouree said in a statement the centre will remain open, but food court seating and communal play areas are closed.
"We are speaking with some of our retailers directly and are acutely aware of the impact these unprecedented challenges are having on them, their livelihoods, the retail industry and on our nation," they said.
"We are in regular discussions with our retailers, industry bodies, and governments to work together to provide some cashflow relief for the many retailers facing financial challenges due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus.
"We continue to work with our retailers to discuss their individual circumstances and provide support where possible, and will provide further updates on this in the coming days."
Central Square was also contacted for comment.
Other retailers in major shopping areas have already announced closures or drastically reduced hours.
The closures follow advice from the state government to stay home, a push from the City of Ballarat to enter full lockdown, and the federal government's rules on indoor gatherings and non-essential businesses.
Many hospitality venues are pivoting to takeaway and delivery only.
Commerce Ballarat has a host of free online resources for employers and employees to help them through this time, including tips for mental health, accounting, and legal issues.
As of Thursday evening, pubs, entertainment venues, health clubs, gyms and yoga studios, waxing, nail and beauty salons, and spa, massage, and tattoo parlours are closed until further notice
Hairdressers and barbers can remain open but must comply with social distancing measures.
Council buildings have been closed since last week, though essential services like Meals on Wheels and waste management will continue.
The federal and state governments have announced various support and stimulus packages, details of which can be found online.
For more information visit dhhs.vic.gov.au/novelcoronavirus or phone the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice if you are displaying symptoms.
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