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  • Jewellers Michael Hill (MHJ) has closed its Australian doors due to the Government laws around the virus
  • The company said the Federal Governments social distancing rule forced its closing as it can’t apply the four square-metre rule in its day-to-day conduct
  • The jewellers have closed its 304 stores across the globe and stood down the majority of its staff
  • The retailer is the first chain to close its doors indefinitely as a result of the strict new measures
  • On the market today, Michael Hill shares remain steady and selling for 23.5 cents apiece at 12:22 pm AEDT

Many retailers have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and are struggling to keep their doors open.

On Monday, jewellers Michael Hill (MHJ) shut its Australian doors due to the new Government laws to cushion the spread of the virus.

The company said the Federal Government’s social distancing rule forced its closing, as it can’t apply the four square-metre rule in its day-to-day conduct.

How will social distancing impact retailers?

Social distancing involves minimising contact with people and maintaining a distance of over one metre between you and others.

This practice includes avoiding public transport, limiting non-essential travel, working from home and skipping large gatherings.

For retailers, this rule has hit hard. It’s limited the number of patrons allowed in-store and ensured many shoppers switch to online platforms instead as they self-isolate.

While Michael Hill is the first of many retail chains to shut up shop in response to COVID-19, it’s sure not to be the last.

304 stores hit worldwide

The jeweller has 304 stores across Australia, New Zealand and Canada, with 165 of those stores located in Australia.

Michael Hill employs 2500 workers across its worldwide stores, with the majority of them left jobless. Of those, 1600 are employed in Australia and around 1300 are now not working.

The company’s headquarters are in Brisbane, which includes its wholesaling and manufacturing divisions.

New Zealand stores have moved to an essential services-only shutdown, while its Canadian stores are already closed. However, customers can still buy their beautiful pieces online.

Michael Hill Chair, Emma Hill, said the health and safety of staff and customers was the highest priority.

“Whilst it is clear that the suspension of our store networks is necessary for the safety and wellbeing of our people and our customers, she said.

“We know also that this will be a time of great uncertainty for them too, and we are doing our best to provide them with the support that they need through this difficult time,” she added.

More cuts to come

Micheal Hill said it will take a range of “urgent” measures to safeguard cash flow, which includes a six-month suspension of its 1.5 cents per share dividend, which was set to be paid on Friday.

The business is also looking to cut staff at its support centre in order to reduce costs.

CEO Daniel Bracken has thanked customers for their loyal support of Micheal Hill through these challenging times and when the time is right is looking forward to re-open its doors.

“Please take care of yourselves, your families and your communities,” he said.

On the market today, Michael Hill shares remain steady and selling for 23.5¢apiece at 12:22 pm AEDT.

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