Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has urged territorians to double down on takeaway orders during the COVID-19 pandemic to help SME owners keep their heads above water.
Announcing a $50 million Small Business Survival Fund on Monday, Gunner said new federally imposed restrictions forcing cafes and restaurants to limit their operations to takeaway orders are bound to hurt local firms.
“COVID19 is doing more damage to our Territory economy than any natural disaster ever has,” Gunner said on Monday.
“I talk to business owners every day and I know how much you’re hurting.
“These new rules are going to hurt. They are going to hurt some people more.”
The NT Government plans to offer grants to small businesses to help them adapt to changing trading conditions, including by helping shop owners set up online stores and restaurants pivot into delivery and pickup services.
“If Territorians want to help, but you’re not sure how, order some takeaway,” Gunner said.
“I am serious – at least a meal a day from a local joint. If you’ve got the dough for it, being the best Territorian you can be right now does mean eating takeaway.”
The $50 million package, which will primarily assist firms with merely “surviving”, is expected to open for applications on Friday.
It will be overseen by an advisory board to be chaired by Dick Guit, former president of the Master Builders Association in the Northern Territory.
The NT Government has promised to provide additional information about the survival fund later in the week.