COVID-19 business support initiatives unveiled by Victorian, Commonwealth governments

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Victorian businesses have been offered a series of grants as part of a $400 million support package jointly funded by the Commonwealth and state government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Victorian businesses had borne the brunt of the cost of COVID-19 lockdowns and would continue to be supported.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the package was all about protecting jobs.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s on offer.

Capacity limit grants

There are grants of $5,000 to about 30,000 businesses still affected by capacity limits, such as gyms, cafes, restaurants, catering services, and hairdressers.

CBD businesses are eligible for an additional $2,000 in recognition of the reduced foot traffic due to office density limits.

These first two lots of grants are available for businesses that received or were eligible for the previous Business Cost Assistance Program.

The Business Continuity Fund is worth $156 million.

Grants for pubs

Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available for licensed venues, in recognition of the fact that their business models depend on more dining in and have higher operating costs.

The $2,000 top-up for CBD businesses also applies here.

To receive this, businesses must have received or been eligible for the previous Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021.

Gyms hit hard

Amanda Rakusic, who owns a female-only gym in North Melbourne, said the grants would be critical for some traders to survive.

“It’s going be the difference between some businesses being able to stay open, having to close their doors,” she said.

“Business is challenging at the best of times.”

Ms Rakusic said she was able to keep her gym running by moving training sessions online and due to the support of loyal clients.

“We don’t know how long we’ll be open for. Could this be two weeks? Six months? I really don’t know,” she said.

Rent relief

A total of $80 million will be provided by the state government to support landlords that offer rent relief to their tenants.

The Commercial Tenancies Relief Scheme will be reinstated to provide rent relief to commercial tenants, while separate support will be provided to landlords who help their tenants.

The scheme will be available to businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million who have had a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent due to coronavirus.

Ms Rakusic said she backed the government’s rent relief measures.

“It’s important to have something standardised across the board, so that businesses know where they stand and there’s less anxiety around that,” she said.

A mediation service for tenants and landlords will help support those negotiations.

“We’re calling for good-faith negotiations between tenants and landlords, and the hardship fund will mean landlords who find reasonable common ground will be supported,” Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford said.

Small businesses that have missed out

If you’re a small business that has missed out on existing business support funds, there will be an $85 million pool of money set aside.

You will need to have a payroll of up to $10 million and have experienced a 70 per cent or greater reduction in revenue to be eligible for grants of up to $5,000.

Support for alpine businesses

With the crucial winter season again cruelled by an outbreak, $9.8 million has been set aside to deliver grants between $5,000 and $20,000 to 430 alpine-based businesses.

The funding also includes $5 million to support operators and management boards.

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(Original ABC Article)