As churches prepare to turn people away this Easter to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a holy place for many DIY enthusiasts will remain open.
With police issuing fines to those who venture outside without a valid reason, some retail businesses – such as Bunnings – continue to welcome customers despite strict rules around social isolation.
Bunnings has seen a surge in shoppers during the pandemic, with DIY spending skyrocketing.Credit:Wayne Taylor
Easter weekend is typically a busy time for the hardware giant, and this year promises to be no exception, as people with time on their hands gather up materials for odd jobs around the house.
Authorities say there are only four valid reasons to leave the home: to get essential goods and services, for care and other compassionate reasons, to work or study and to exercise.
So while learning to drive warrants a $1652 fine and social visits from friends or family are banned, what about the weekend tradesperson who wants to paint the walls or fix the gutters while in isolation?
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told 3AW's Neil Mitchell on Tuesday that visiting a shop was a sufficient reason for being outside, as long as the retail business was not restricted under the Chief Health Officer's guidelines.
"Because Bunnings is open, I can go to Bunnings and buy a can of paint?," asked Mitchell.
"It would seem so at this stage, that's the way it would appear," Mr Patton said.
A search for clarity around what is OK has resulted in authorities being asked about all sorts of hypothetical scenarios, such as fetching firewood, driving to McDonald's or visiting a holiday home.
The problem has been compounded by states having different rules for recreational activities such as golf and fishing.
At a briefing on Monday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton expressed frustration about the confusion. "I'm a bit surprised by some of the questions," he said.
"There are only so many times you can say 'If you can stay at home, please stay at home'.
"So to get questions — 'Can I shoot a rabbit at a wedding? 'Can I take my personal trainer here, there and everywhere?' — surprises me. I think people should focus on what they can and should do to reduce transmission now."
Dr Sutton said that shops like Bunnings were allowed to stay open because they sell essential items needed for maintenance or in an emergency.
"They will have some items that are available … that aren't essential," he said.
"They'll be open for people to get them if they absolutely require them but it shouldn't be a free-for-all."
Bunnings is not the only retailer still trading despite the restrictions on social movement. IKEA, JB Hi-Fi, Kmart, Target and Rebel Sport are also keeping their stores open.
In response to the health crisis, Bunnings has taped signs on the floor to indicate a distance of 1½ metres, increased cleaning in stores and provided gloves and hand sanitiser for staff.
"We've had a number of changes in place in stores over the last few weeks as we continue to follow government advice," said Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider.
For those still seeking answers for what is allowed, the Department of Health and Human Services has released a long list of answers to community questions about the stay-at-home order.
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