1st June, 2021
The doors have been closed on Victorian businesses amid another COVID-19 lockdown. But there is financial support at hand, writes Nina Hendy.
Pandemic-weary Victorian business owners have been ordered to restrict trade amid another COVID-19 outbreak in a heartbreaking scenario playing out across the state.
In troubling scenes reported in the media, small businesses and sole traders have been left with little choice but to throw product away, refund money, forego bookings and events and let staff go. Equally, there have been heart-warming stories of people handing out food to those in need so it doesn’t go to waste.
And while the business fraternity has been hit particularly hard, the Victorian Government has thrown out a lifeline in the form of financial assistance packages. It will support small businesses and sole traders that are most impacted by the circuit-breaker lockdown, including operators in the hospitality, retail, events and creative industries.
NB: The below information was correct at the time of writing. See links to the relevant website at the end of this article for the most up-to-date information.
The $250.7 million Circuit Breaker Business Support Package will help up to 90,000 Victorian businesses that have been affected by the restrictions.
While the restrictions are meant to come to an end on Thursday, there is the possibility that they may be extended, depending on COVID-19 case numbers reported each morning.
The program provides $2,500 grant for eligible employing and non-employing businesses in sectors most impacted. This includes businesses operating in an industry that cannot operate under the circuit breaker restrictions and which cannot work remotely.
A $40.7 million new round of Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will provide businesses holding an eligible liquor licence and food certificate with a $3,500 grant per premises.
An allocation of $20 million will be dedicated to supporting operators in the events industry who have incurred losses due to the circuit-breaker restrictions, with more details to be provided shortly.
The program will open for applications tomorrow (Wednesday 2 June) and will remain open for applications for three weeks.
The Victorian Government says the support measures will help businesses pay the bills and maintain their workforce as best they can as the state works together to get through this challenging time.
Victorian government Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford says small businesses “are crucial to our economy and beyond dollars and cents, important contributors to local communities – we’re proud to stand with them and their workers.”
Businesses can register their interest in the Business Costs Assistance Program at www.business.vic.gov.au so they can be notified when applications open. Operators eligible for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund payment will be contacted directly by email in coming days.
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Australian Industry Group estimates that the seven-day lockdown will cost the state’s businesses as much as $2.5 billion per week in lost or deferred consumer spending. The loss estimate is based on analysis of Bureau of Statistics data for Victorian household consumption in 2019 and 2020.
There are 63 active COVID-19 cases in Victoria at the time of writing, with 42,699 Victorians undergoing the COVID-19 test in the past 24 hours. An aged care outbreak has been particularly concerning, while officials continue to add to the growing list of exposure sites, which now stands at a troubling 320.
UPDATE: Since this article was released the circuit-breaker lockdown has been extended by a further seven days, and so business support as also been increased. The Victorian government has promised to double the amount of support available to eligible businesses, taking the cost of this package to a total of $460 million.
For more information and to find out if you’re eligible, click here.