Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has now revealed an extensive list of business restrictions that will be applied across metropolitan Melbourne after 11:59pm on Wednesday, running until 13 September.
Professional firms, including accounting and legal services firms, will now be required to close their offices for onsite work.
Mr Andrews said the new restrictions will see another 250,000 people forced to stay home or stood down, ensuring that 1 million Victorians will not travel to work each day.
“These are heartbreaking decisions but [there] is simply no choice. The advice from a medical expert is that this is the only way to get these numbers under control, to drive them down low enough so that we can open up again,” Mr Andrews said.
“The alternative is a six-month strategy, not a six-week strategy, and then even at that point, [we have] significant doubt that that would work.”
Additional $5,000 grants
Mr Andrews said businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria that are forced to close will now be eligible for an additional $5,000 grant, on top of the previous grant announced in early July.
“In terms of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, you will be aware that we are currently in the process of paying out literally thousands of $5,000 grants,” Mr Andrews said.
“I can announce today will add a further $5,000 to those grants, acknowledging that they will have been under these restrictions now for a period significantly longer than the first six weeks as foreshadowed.
“So, that will mean $10,000, and indeed for those metropolitan businesses, it will finish up being in aggregate terms first and second wave payments in the order of $20,000 together with a number of other waivers of taxes and charges, and for some businesses, many businesses, all of those really significant payroll tax refunds, we are able to return to those businesses money three quarterly payments that they had made to us prior foot to the first way.”
Submission falls short
The inclusion of accounting and professional services firms in the list of workplaces that must be closed comes after all nine professional bodies of the Tax Practitioners Stewardship Group urged Mr Andrews to let the profession continue to operate and service clients on their business premises in the event of stage 4 restrictions.
The submission noted that while many accountants and bookkeepers have effectively delivered their services while working remotely, there will be circumstances where “an in-person meeting may be the only available option for practitioners to be able to comply with their legislative and regulatory requirements”.
The full list of restrictions can be accessed here.
More to come.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.