Business groups are increasingly frustrated that the New South Wales government is yet to announce support for businesses facing a two-week lockdown.
Alexi Boyd, interim chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations (COSBOA), says businesses in New South Wales need “meaningful, immediate and accessible support”.
“Particularly in regional areas because they’re not only losing holiday income, but are also losing income from trading with city-based businesses they would normally supply to,” Boyd tells SmartCompany.
The NSW government announced stay-at-home orders for four local government areas on Friday, which coincide with the winter school holidays. The government then expanded COVID-19 restrictions to cover Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong from Saturday evening.
Under the restrictions, residents can only leave their homes for essential reasons. Restaurants, cafes and pubs are allowed to open for take-away only, and retail businesses are restricted to click-and-collect and delivery services.
Upon announcing the two-week lockdown, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said support for businesses was coming.
“We will, as a state government in the next few days, be announcing support for businesses,” Berejiklian said at the time.
“Nobody should feel stressed or pressured to break any of the rules because of their financial situation.”
However, the Premier did not announce any business support measures at a press conference on Monday morning.
Berejiklian said NSW Health recorded 18 new local cases of COVID-19 on Monday in the 24 hours to 8pm the night before, bringing the total number of cases linked to the Bondi cluster to 124.
For small business groups, the latest lockdown in NSW shows a national approach to coronavirus restrictions and business support measures is essential.
“We’re 16 months in, we’ve had how many lockdowns to practice this?” Boyd says.
COSBOA has been lobbying the state and federal governments to work towards a nationally consistent approach to restrictions and would like to see national cabinet agree on a method to dealing with lockdowns and business support.
“There’s utter confusion out there. Professional associations are getting requests from their members who are confused all over the country right now,” Boyd says.
There are now coronavirus restrictions across several states, following a spike in COVID-19 cases linked to Sydney’s Bondi cluster.
On Sunday, Greater Darwin entered a 48-hour lockdown after five people tested positive last Friday night.
The Western Australian government imposed new restrictions on the Perth and Peel regions, following one positive case of coronavirus in the state. Restrictions include mandatory mask wearing, as well as density quotients and a cap of 150 patrons in hospitality, retail and beauty businesses.
Queensland authorities also reintroduced restrictions, announcing a density quotient of one person per two square metres in retail spaces and seated dining requirement for hospitality venues.