The Victorian government has announced a new $143 million support package for eligible industries who were most impacted by the five-day lockdown between 12 February and 17 February.
Part of the package will see $92 million to be distributed through $2,000 grants under the Business Costs Assistance Program to eligible small businesses and sole traders in the hospitality, food wholesaling, tourism, events and selected retail industries.
Businesses with an annual payroll of up to $3 million can apply and must have incurred costs through loss of perishable food or produce and cancelled bookings.
Specifics around business eligibility will be made available on the Business Victoria web page within “a day or two”, according to Victoria Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula.
A further $24.9 million will see licensed hospitality venues that were previous recipients of the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund receive an automatic $3,000 grant. These venues will not be eligible for the Business Costs Assistance Program grants.
Victorian accommodation providers will also benefit from a new $16.2 million initiative that will see grants issued if bookings were cancelled during the snap lockdown.
Accommodation providers that experienced 10 or fewer cancelled nights will be eligible for $2,250, while those who experienced 11 or more cancelled nights will receive $4,500.
The state government has also launched a new Melbourne Travel Voucher Scheme with 40,000 vouchers, worth $200, to support travel in greater Melbourne.
An additional 10,000 vouchers have also been added to the Regional Travel Voucher Scheme.
Victorian Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said the new package was to recognise the costs on businesses who were disproportionately affected by the snap lockdown.
“The weekend that circuit breaker coincided with was a weekend that’s often really busy,” Ms Pulford said.
“Mid-summer, great weather for weddings, Valentine’s Day, Lunar New Year, lots of occasions where people could be expecting to get together and do wonderful things with their loved ones.”
The announcement of a new support package comes after the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, had called on the Victorian government to offer financial support to small businesses and sole traders forced to close ahead of one of the busiest weekends of trade each year.
Federal, state and territory governments have also been urged to work together to develop a standardised model of disaster support for businesses affected by future snap lockdowns.
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.