Grants boosted for SA businesses and events hit by COVID-19 restrictions following lockdown

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South Australian small and medium-sized businesses will soon be able to access a new $40 million COVID-19 support package — but not all are happy, with one local pub owner describing the grants as “hush money”.

From Friday, businesses with staff can apply for $3,000 cash grants, while sole traders can get $1,000.

The package also includes a major events support grant of up to $25,000 for events that were either cancelled or suffered a significant financial loss because of the lockdown or social distancing restrictions.

An estimated 19,000 local businesses will be eligible for the package, jointly funded by the state and federal governments.

Eligible industries include hospitality, tourism, fitness and the performing arts.

Premier Steven Marshall said CBD traders could also get an additional $1,000 grant “to help those businesses that are still experiencing reduced turnover due to the increased restrictions in place post the lockdown being lifted”.

“South Australians have done an incredible job of working together and now is the time to continue to pull together to support our hardworking small businesses who are the backbone of the state’s economy,” the Premier said.

CBD bar and cafe owner Manuel Francesconi said his business was still struggling because of reduced foot traffic, and that the funding would provide much-needed support.

“We are eligible for both the grants — it means, first of all, peace of mind, knowing that we have the support,” he said.

“Hopefully in the next few weeks, when everything settles down, we’ll be able to trade a bit better.”

But Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the grant announcement was “disappointing”, and that businesses needed more than one-off payments.

“What they really need is a structured plan that gives them the confidence to be able to account for the 50 per cent restrictions they now have to endure and may yet have to for some time to come, until Australia gets a far higher level of vaccination,” he said.

Owner of the Duke of Brunswick pub, Simone Douglas, described the latest grants as “hush money”, and said the total financial support on offer to businesses since the start of the pandemic amounted to $55 per day.

“It certainly doesn’t cover rent, electricity, gas — it’s not meaningful compensation,” she said.

“If you’re not going to come to the party … then give us back 75 per cent [density], which is the minimum viable capacity for most businesses out there.”

Applications for the grants close on October 17.

Another $100 million state government package for businesses affected during the lockdown was announced last month.

Individuals who lost income during the lockdown can also claim up to $600 — funded by the Commonwealth for those in Adelaide, and by the state government for those in regional areas.

(Original ABC Article)