Explained: The COVID-19 support available to small businesses in Queensland

Cairns Marlin Marina in Queensland. Source: Slava Abramovitch/Unsplash.

Businesses in Queensland may not be facing the same state-wide lockdowns as those in some other parts of the country, but a smattering of snap lockdowns in July and August have had an effect, and the state’s many, many tourism businesses are still suffering as both international and domestic borders remain closed.

Accordingly, there are various COVID-19 business support packages available from the state government.

COVID-19 Business Support Grants

On 13 August 2021, in response to snap lockdowns in part of Queensland, the state and federal governments announced a joint $600 million package offering support to businesses.

To be eligible, businesses with employees must have annual turnover of at least $75,000, and have seen a decline in turnover of 30% or more.

Funding is available to businesses affected by the lockdown in South East Queensland, which began on 31 July; the lockdown in Cairns and Yarrabah, which began on 8 August; or any state lockdown that began in August 2021.

However, businesses do not have to be located in a lockdown area.

This package offers tiered grant payments to businesses, depending on the size of their payroll.

Sole traders can apply for a one-off grant of $1,000.

Small businesses with a payroll of less than $1.3 million are eligible for a $10,000 one-off grant.

Businesses with payrolls of between $1.3 million and $10 million are eligible for $15,000.

Larger businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector, with payrolls of more than $10 million, are eligible for a $30,000 grant.

Online applications for employing businesses are open until 16 November via the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority website.

Applications for sole traders are expected to open in September, and businesses can register their interest here.

More information and eligibility criteria for the COVID-19 Business Support Grants program is available here.

Hospitality and tourism support

There is also a $47.75 million support package dedicated specifically to businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors, affected by the lockdowns in Cairns and South East Queensland.

The package includes deferral of payroll tax due in August 2021 for six months, which businesses can apply for here.

Other waivers announced will be automatically applied for eligible businesses. These include a 12-month rent deferral for businesses on state land; relief on liquor license fees; fee waivers for inbound tour operators; waivers for tourism businesses operating in national parks; and relief on marina fees for boat operators in the Cairns Marlin Marina.

All of these waivers are in place until 30 June, 2022. Find out more here.

COVID-19 Cleaning Rebate

Small and medium businesses that have been listed as a COVID-19 exposure site can also apply for a COVID-19 cleaning rebate.

The funding will cover up to 80% of cleaning costs, up to $10,000 per incident.

To be eligible, businesses must have a payroll of less than $10 million, and their principal place of business must be located in Queensland.

The rebate applies to incidents in the 2021-22 financial year.

They must be able to provide an invoice and evidence of payment for a professional ‘deep-clean’ at the affected business premise, in accordance with the Queensland COVID-19 cleaning, disinfection and waste management guidelines.

Applications for this rebate are not yet open, but details on how to apply are expected to become available here.

Marine Tourism Support

The Queensland government has also announced a second round of its COVID-19 Marine Tourism rebate.

This scheme is designed to offset marina fees for businesses affected by the dip in both international and domestic tourism.

It is available to businesses based in eligible local government areas: Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Livingstone, Mackay, Isaac, Whitsunday, Burdekin, Townsville, Hinchinbrook, Cassowary, Cook, Cairns and Douglas.

Full details are not yet available, but the first round delivered rebates of up to $20,000 to businesses. All in, $1.8 million in financial assistance was delivered to 132 marine-based businesses last year.

Businesses are invited to register their interest in the scheme by emailing: [email protected]

At the same time, marine-based businesses can apply for waivers to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park fees.

Apprentice wage subsidy

Queensland’s ‘Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements’ scheme offers a 50% wage subsidy for apprentices and trainees onboarded between 5 October, 2020 and 31 March, 2022.

Subsidies are capped at $7,000 per quarter, and there is no limit on the number of apprentices businesses can claim subsidies for.

You can find more information here.

Funding for culture

Finally, there are a range of grant and loan programs available for small businesses looking to launch new live entertainment projects, for example, or for those planning to ‘restart, reimagine or create’ new cultural and creative events.

More information, plus a tool to help find what support is available for your business, is available on the Business Queensland website.

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