Essential services like supermarkets will be allowed to remain trading in Victoria during the latest lockdown.

And now Bunnings boss Mike Schneider claims the hardware chain should also be exempt from the strict lockdown rules.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce which businesses will be allowed to remain open for trading during the COVID-19 stage 4 lockdown later today.

It has already been confirmed that supermarkets, butcheries and bakeries will remain open during the period.

But Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider has claimed the beloved DIY chain should also be allowed to remain open.

Speaking to The Australian, Mr Schneider said Bunnings was a major supplier to industries such as aged care and education, sold many vital cleaning and hygiene products and played an important role when it came to mental health.

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“We always believed we play an essential role,’’ he told the publication.

“If there is a freak storm and roofs are damaged, it is tarpaulins and ropes and water proofing equipment; if your hot water system goes, if your smoke alarm goes or light bulbs go – these are all things you need for urgent repairs.

“And we play an important role in taking pressure off the ­supermarkets because we actually supply a range of products that overlap in those cleaning products so we spread the load between supermarkets and others.”

And in a statement provided to, Mr Schneider said while the retailer awaited further government guidance, the hardware industry as a whole was “essential”.

“Home improvement retailers worldwide have been classed as essential as our industry plays an important role in providing necessary products for customers to keep their homes and businesses safe and secure and keep small businesses running with products for urgent repairs and maintenance,” he said.

“We also understand the important role those in this industry play in keeping the community active when at home, for big and small projects as well as the very positive physical and mental health benefits that come from the sense of achievement from getting things done around the home.

“The safety of our team and customers is our number one priority and we will continue to follow the advice of the Victorian Government.”

The debate comes as Victorians wake up to the toughest restrictions in Australian history, with another 429 coronavirus cases now recorded.

On Sunday, Mr Andrews declared a “state of disaster” and imposed stage 4 restrictions, which include a daily curfew from 8pm to 5am, with Melbourne residents only allowed to leave their home during those hours “to get care, to give care, or to go to and from work or be at work”.

“We can no longer have people simply out and about for no good reason whatsoever,” Mr Andrews said yesterday as he announced the new restrictions, which will last for six weeks and could wipe up to $9 billion from the national budget forecasts.

Federal deputy chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd said Victoria’s stage 4 lockdown is “what is needed if we’re going to bring this outbreak under control”.

Appearing on ABC News Breakfast today, Prof Kidd defended the state’s mandatory mask order implemented 10 days ago, despite daily increases in case numbers ranging from 400 to 700.

There are also calls to introduce stage 3 restrictions in Sydney as cases explode across the city.

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