The easing of coronavirus restrictions across Victoria has left some industries, including tourism and gyms and fitness studios, bearing the economic brunt of the government’s public health strategy.
From midnight Thursday, restrictions will ease in metropolitan Melbourne allowing retail, hospitality, and beauty services to reopen with some restrictions. However, indoor exercise facilities, including gyms and fitness studios will remain shut for another week.
Metropolitan accommodation venues can accept bookings from single households or couples, and regional hotels will be able to take bookings from single households plus two adults.
The ongoing restrictions mean that tourism businesses in regional Victoria will not receive an influx of customers over the long weekend, as Melbourne residents are banned from travelling further than 25km for non-essential reasons.
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Jennifer Lee, director at Brighton Savoy Hotel, tells SmartCompany the fourth lockdown has been a “deal changer” for her business.
“Businesses can’t operate with continual interruptions without being financially compensated for them. This lockdown is a bit of a deal changer,” Lee says.
The Brighton Savoy Hotel is a 60-room venue with four event spaces, two boardrooms and a restaurant.
While Lee applied for support from the state government, she says the grants available are not equivalent to the the overall loss in turnover the restrictions have caused.
“I’ve got a weekly wage bill for just skeleton staff in excess of $20,000 a week, without being able to trade,” she says.
“We’re losing about $120,000 a week in turnover.”
Victoria entered its fourth lockdown on May 27, igniting calls for ongoing support for businesses that no longer have the safety net of JobKeeper.
While the Victorian government announced support for businesses directly affected by the restrictions, including hospitality, the arts and tourism, business groups say it’s not enough.
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and industry supports the easing of restrictions but said it was not “the snapback we were hoping for”.
Paul Guerra, chief executive of the chamber of commence, said in a statement that not every business in the state will be able to operate from tomorrow and some will “continue to lose money every day until restrictions are eased further”.
Lee, who directs the four star hotel that her father founded in 1967, says there is more support the state and federal governments can offer businesses.
“A reintroduction of JobKeeper, or a similar program would help,” she says.
Additionally, Lee says payroll tax relief, land tax relief and more federal tax waivers would all help her business survive.
“The majority of our key staff have been with us for 10, 12 even 25 years. We’re more than a business, we’re more than an employer, we’re actually part of the community,” she says.