Australian Newsagency Blog

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Why are newsagents not on the list of retail businesses permitted to be open in South Australia in the latest Covid lockdown?

Mark Fletcher
November 19th, 2020 · 17 Comments

It does not make sense that those in control of the list of retail businesses that can be open in the second Covid lockdown in South Australia, which came into effect at midnight, does not include newsagents.

All through late yesterday and into the night the list evolved, as you’d expect in such a situation.

First to be added to the list of businesses that could open is bottle shops. In terms of priorities, that sends an odd message.

Now on the list, in addition to supermarkets from the original list, we can see pet shops, butchers, fruit and vegetable shops and fishmongers.

But not newsagents.

Distribution centres can be open. If I was a distribution newsagent I’d take this as permission to open.

Newsagents play a key role in keeping people informed and connected. They were identified as essential in the first national Covid lockdown and also identified as essential early in the second, and more restrictive, lockdown in Victoria.

My suggestion to South Australian newsagents is that they urgently reach out to local members of parliament as well as at the leadership level. make the case that your business is essential, be clear as to why. Urge them to lobby for the decision to be reconsidered. Keep the contact civil and stick to the facts.

In Victoria we saw News Corp. actively engaged on behalf of newsagents early on, seeking to ensure newsagencies remained open. Indeed, I think I recall seeing newsagents on a list from the Herald Sun of businesses that would be open before the government issued the list. I wondered at the time if that was a lobbying move.

I’d love to see News Corp outlets in South Australia lobby publicly on behalf of the channel.

Given how these things go, I urge newsagents to engage on this  now. In addition to calling and emailing local members of parliament, be active on your business Facebook page and the Facebook page of politicians. Don’t be whiney or needy. rather, speak to the importance of maintaining easy access to news and people to people connection. Stress that you are a Covid safe business, with all the necessary protocols in place.

The changes to the list of what can be open from the. it was first announced indicate flexibility.

One thing I thought all governments would have learned from the Victorian experience is to be prepared. Lists of essential businesses should be well established and thoroughly debated as part of good planning. That appears to not have been done in SA.


Category: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · Social responsibility

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Colin // Nov 19, 2020 at 7:41 PM


    If you look at what people are allowed to do it is clear an essential list is superfluous.

    Adelaide is under a strict lockdown. No fast food, no cafes no exercise. Newsagents do not provide any allowed activity apart from those with post offices.

    This is very different to previous lockdown formats.

    I agree with you on bottle shops they should be closed. Perhaps a sign politicians realise the public are growing tired of the rules.


  • 2 Graeme Day // Nov 19, 2020 at 9:26 PM

    Colin I agree with the change in what are called whatever for whatever. However there is no consideration for what is effective and what is not say small business such as newsagents. The history is such that we have been open 7 days a week forever giving print media in a fashion either home delivered (now deceased by virture anyway with electronic media offering an alternative) or by decreasing in sales.
    The facts are we are not a COVID risk We can distance without touching and we present more importantly,a service to a majority of ederly Australians that WANT to read the newspaper irrespective of some of the journalistic view contrary their own point of view. Yes many of the views by journalists present the opposite view within the same publication.
    This is in the public interest and was when NEWSPAPERS were the most imformative and latest influence in reporting daily events were table by Parliament as an essential service. Today there are mant politicians tha believe the influence they have on their own importance is paramount.
    From my perspective I believ we are essential to a lot of people who want to read all opinions and feel well informed enough to have one of there own. No other media gives this option.
    We should push hard and solidly on our politicians as Mark has recommended to make sure we are essential. I am sure publishers would agree for they cannot afford print media not to have retail outlets until it is as such a time that suits the society they present to shows otherwise.
    let’s fight this for they are our customers and our reponsibilty apart from the financial considerations.
    It should be our choice with our customers not the Govt. Stamps snail makil -over and out. in fact all services are either out there are equaly competitive wise or have alternative on line application. unlike reading and forming one’s own opinion.


  • 3 Andrew t // Nov 20, 2020 at 7:12 AM

    To think newsagencies are essential businesses is laughable. Step outside your circle. Magazines and newspapers are in decline (read on-line) lotto is in decline (purchased on-line) and you harp on about reinventing yourself as a ‘gift’ shop FFS.
    Abolish the shingle and rebrand.


  • 4 Mark Fletcher // Nov 20, 2020 at 7:30 AM

    Andrew, you put your email address,, in the web address field when submitting your comment.

    As to your comment, I get that you are maintaining your range. Get over it, dude. Let it go. Comments like these from you are those of what is called a troll online.

    It’s like you come here to be disagreeable.

    There are many reasons newsagents are essential, more so that bottle shops and pet shops.


  • 5 Dean // Nov 20, 2020 at 8:24 AM

    Ignore andrew mark. I appreciate what you have done for SA newsagents. I saw the story in the Advertiser yesterday quoting you and was glad to read someone arguing for us.


  • 6 eddy // Nov 20, 2020 at 11:17 AM

    And what blooming expanding business do you come from Andrew t, let me guess Covid tester.


  • 7 Colin // Nov 20, 2020 at 11:21 AM


    The SA lockdown is not about social distancing, it is about keeping everyone possible indoors. There are no takeaways, no construction, no dentists. It is a short sharp shock of total lockdown.

    Newsagents should support the aims of the lockdown along with all other businesses and not plead a special case, which they are not.


  • 8 Mark Fletcher // Nov 20, 2020 at 11:38 AM

    Colin, the government list of what is approved does not match your label of a total lockdown:

    a blood bank (including blood collection and delivery);
    administrative services provided by an employer to enable its employees to work from home;
    air transport (including airports);
    bakeries that supply baked goods on a wholesale basis (but do not, during the defined period, sell or supply on a retail basis to members of the public);
    bottle shop;
    care services for people with particular needs because of homelessness, age, infirmity, disability, illness or chronic health;
    childcare, early childhood education, primary/secondary schools;
    commercial operations that supply goods or services necessary for the implementation of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19;
    Commonwealth agency services, including Australian Border Force and Commonwealth law enforcement and intelligence agency services;
    consular and diplomatic services;
    distribution centre;
    domestic and commercial waste and resource recovery services (including collection, treatment and disposal services and transfer stations), but only those services that are provided to commercial contractors;
    emergency services being:
    ambulance services;
    firefighting services;
    medical retrieval services (including Royal Flying Doctor Services);
    military and defence services deployed activities in South Australia;
    paramedical services;
    police services;
    state emergency services;
    essential health services;
    essential infrastructure and essential services within the Essential Services Act 1981 (SA);
    factory or facility (only operations which would otherwise cause damage to the plant and equipment);
    financial institution;
    freight services (including postal and courier services);
    hardware store;
    hotel or motel accommodation;
    journalists and media services;
    National Heavy Vehicle Regulator compliance activities
    organisations that provide urgent services necessary for the health and safety of any person, animal or premises (e.g. plumbing, Centrelink services and Foodbank);
    pet store or veterinary clinic;
    petrol station;
    port operations;
    post office;
    primary industries (only to ensure adequate supply of food and care of crops and animals);
    production and distribution of food for sale by supermarket/butcher/fruit/vegetable store/fishmonger, liquor sales at a bottle shop and medical and pharmaceutical products;
    public transport (including taxis and other public passenger services)
    state or local government services which are deemed essential by their Chief Executive;
    supermarket, butcher, fruit and vegetable store or fishmonger (but not an indoor or outdoor market);
    truckstops and roadhouses, but not the provision of seated dining or shower facilities to persons who are not truck drivers;
    vehicle repair and mechanical services (including roadside assistance).


  • 9 Graeme Day // Nov 20, 2020 at 4:16 PM

    colin I rest my case against the list that was published as approved No problem so far in other States. Seems the COVID situtaion is an overreaction in SA anyway due to fraudulent alarm.
    Never the less We are as essentail in the way I have pointed out and Mark has not only endorsed has added more reason to the situtaion.


  • 10 Colin // Nov 20, 2020 at 5:13 PM


    The list seems fine to me, all can be justified as essential ( not bottle shops) But I still see no reason for a newsagent to be added to the list. Your list actually justifies newsagents remaining closed.

    As for Marshall (there is no) plan. We in SA have a contender for the “covid exploiter par excellence award. Doona needed some competition.


  • 11 Mark Fletcher // Nov 20, 2020 at 5:46 PM

    I don’t understand Doona.

    The list speaks for itself, newsagents are essential given their role in news access, especially foreign language.

    The play a more important role than bottle shops and bet shops.

    I’m not seeking to get you to agree with me.


  • 12 Peter // Nov 20, 2020 at 5:56 PM


    I would read “Doona” as derogatory slang term for Daniel Andrews who I believe did a very good job in Victoria in stopping the virus.


  • 13 Graem Day // Nov 20, 2020 at 9:29 PM

    Colin this is not about COVID it’s about comparison of what is essential as a service in a crisis and what isn’t.
    Very very subjective as it is most of these decisions are made today about today with self interest being paramount plus Governement expediency with a sprinkle of base coveringand predujice.
    Comparing the AP Australian Post incl all LPO’s that have a newsagency contigent says it all.
    Howver singually comparing a newsagency with APost office I ask you what’s the difference?
    the ederly are the only ones dependant on both.
    They are the majority of the population in demographic numbers.
    The State Government of SA. chose the APost a Federal Agency over the local newsagent as an essential service. Their oerogative as it is mine and others to compare this perogative and analise the the semmingly stupiidty of this decision.
    Nothing to do with COVID just commonsense with comparisons.


  • 14 Graeme Day // Nov 20, 2020 at 10:03 PM

    Colin I can’t believe your comment “the SA Lockdown is not about social distancing ” Colin it should be’ This is the whole purpose of Lockdown on a compulsory level’. The Govt. SA. or anywhere else cannot condone Essentail Service exemptions to a selected few options when they are not capable of deciding just what is Essential for some and what is not for others. Take Australia Post Federal Goverment owned is related to older people who don’t understand internet transactions same applies to the same demographic with print newsapapers Yes Both can be handled from within a lockdown situation by using the internet yet one is exempt and the other NOT.


  • 15 Mark Fletcher // Nov 20, 2020 at 10:06 PM

    The government has tonight decided newsagents are essential and can open.


  • 16 Graeme Day // Nov 21, 2020 at 6:44 AM

    Common sense prevails.


  • 17 Mark Fletcher // Nov 21, 2020 at 9:28 AM

    Yes. It took plenty of effort, publicly and privately, to draw attention to the mistake of not designating newsagents as essential. I think that those involved in lobbying did not let go for 3 days is a key reason the state government decided as they did last night.


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