Larger businesses within the Bega Valley Shire, including most supermarkets, are being forced to shut their doors on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The businesses cannot open due to NSW retail trading laws that restrict trading on some public holidays.
Usually most local supermarkets and retail stores are closed on Good Friday, but are open on Easter Sunday. Unfortunately this year they cannot trade on either day because the Easter break does not coincide with the school holidays.
“Most shops can’t open on those days unless there is a ‘holiday resort’ exemption that the local council applied for,” a NSW Industrial Relations spokesperson said.
While the Bega Valley Shire Council has been granted an exemption to the Retail Trading Act 2008 it only applies for “12 days coinciding with School Holidays in April-May”.
Council contacted a number of Merimbula businesses informing them of this legislation and the consequences of opening on Sunday. Council also released a statement to the public.
“Obviously as Easter has fallen within school holidays for many years this has not been an issue for some time.
“Of the 152 Councils in NSW only 38 have exemptions for the Easter period, Bega Valley has the one mentioned above and the rest do not have this general exemption at all.”
The trading laws do not apply to small or locally owned businesses but large companies within the Bega Valley Shire such as Woolworths, Coles and Target will all be forced to close on Sunday, March 27.
Operators of shops and businesses in the shire have the choice of applying for an exemption through NSW Industrial Relations but it is too late as applications for these exemptions must be in at least 28 days prior to the day in question.
Pambula Foodworks owner Jeanette Stolzenhein said they will be open from 8am until 4pm on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
“I’d like to have a long weekend, but if no one else is open, I have to open. People need to have somewhere they can go,” Ms Stolzenhein said.
Mayor Michael Britten has contacted local member Andrew Constance and Minister for Industrial Relations, Gladys Berejiklian, to see if they can assist local traders for this weekend.
Council will also work to have the exemption amended to cover Easter in future.
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