Jim’s Mowing founder Jim Penman has penned an emotional open letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, saying he’s “shocked and appalled” his path out of lockdown offers “no relief” for struggling Victorians.
In the letter penned on Monday morning and seen by NCA NewsWire, the mowing magnate outlined how an extension of the lockdown would compromise the wellbeing of his Victorian contractors.
“Premier, you will have blood on your hands,” Mr Penman wrote.
“Every day I hear stories of misery and despair. Putting people out of work without need is a massive risk to health and wellbeing. I have one franchisee whose son barely survived a suicide attempt. His daughter too is severely depressed.
“Another franchisee had until four weeks ago a superb business with an exceptional customer service rating. Unfortunately, she had not been operating long enough to build a reserve, and your restrictions wiped out her savings. She can get no government support, is begging for leftovers from neighbours and surviving only by loans from myself and others.
“These examples could be multiplied a thousand times.”
Last week, Mr Penman told NCA NewsWire his Victorian contractors financially affected by Melbourne’s strict second lockdown would sue the State Government for $7 million.
He said about 700 contractors across the state were losing about $3000 a week since the Premier’s controversial workplace restrictions prevented cleaners and gardeners from working.
“When these regulations were changed, I advised all affected franchisees to cease work, and we suspended their fees. Even though feeling the restrictions unfair and wrong, they agreed to do this for the six weeks. This extension has filled them with despair,” Mr Penman wrote in Monday’s letter.
“I appeal to you once more to drop this senseless measure, to put human welfare before the cynical pursuit of political advantage. Sole operators on a site are no risk to public health, and should be allowed to work – regardless of whether they are part of the Jim’s Group or not.
“This applies to all sole operator and mum and dad businesses across the state who have no voice.”
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday the stage-four lockdown measures in Melbourne would be extended until September 28.
Some conditions will be eased from 11.59pm on September 13, including the 8pm curfew, which will move to 9pm to account for the longer days, while public outdoor gatherings of up to two people will be allowed.
Exercise will also be increased to two hours per day, up from one hour a day.
Singles will be able to have one nominated person visit them, as part of a “bubble” system.
But people must continue staying within 5km of their home, unless they were travelling for essential work or education purposes.