“We were fully booked out”: Victorian hospitality businesses call for compensation after being hit with sixth COVID-19 lockdown

Melissa Glentis, owner of Major Mitchell Cafe and Dilly Daly in Melbourne. Source: Supplied.

Small businesses hit by Victoria’s sixth coronavirus shutdown are calling on the state government for compensation from mid-July after having only a nine-day break between two snap lockdowns.

Melissa Glentis, owner of Major Mitchell Cafe in Carnegie and Dilly Daly in South Yarra, says going back into lockdown after the last two-week period of restrictions has resulted in a new wave of cancelled bookings and wasted produce.

“This weekend, we were fully booked out with three functions, and on a Thursday afternoon most of your prep is done,” Glentis tells SmartCompany.

During the previous lockdown, which ended on July 27, Glentis had to throw out $2,500 in food supplies and she’s desperate to avoid the same situation again.

“We haven’t gone through all our wastage yet because we’re trying to repurpose a lot of it,” she says.

Glentis says small businesses are crying out for cashflow support because they have exhausted their savings during ongoing trading restrictions.

“It should be assessed from the last lockdown because we had just nine days of trade to start to get back up again,” Glentis says.

Victoria entered its sixth lockdown at 8pm on Thursday night in response to new mystery cases of COVID-19 in the community. Under the restrictions, hospitality and retail businesses are forced to close unless for takeaway or delivery services.

In response to the lockdown, the federal government agreed to partly fund a new $400 million support package for Victorian businesses.

The support package, announced on Friday afternoon, includes a third round of the Business Costs Assistance Program grants of $2,800 which will be automatically paid to businesses that previously received the grants. 

New payments of $5,000 to $20,000 will be made to about 8,900 hospitality venues across Victoria under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund. Payments will be automatic and graded by venue capacity. 

Alpine businesses will receive between $5,000 for off-mountain venues and $20,000 for employing, on mountain businesses, under a $10.6 million extension of the Alpine Business Support Program.

The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund will receive a $54 million injection, offering small businesses grants of up to $8,000 if they are not eligible for support under existing programs and have experienced a 70% reduction in turnover.

The federal and Victorian governments’ joint support package comes amid calls from CPA Australia for businesses to be compensated for losses they have experienced since the last state-wide lockdown ended. 

Andrew Hunter, chief executive at CPA Australia, said Victorian businesses have not had time to re-establish their cashflow and many are still re-building their perishable inventory.

“It’s frankly heartbreaking what they’re going through right now,” Hunter said.

“The brevity of Victoria’s re-opening on this occasion will significantly compound business losses.”

In July, CPA Australia proposed a five-point plan for providing post-lockdown business support.

The plan included tapered support for small and medium businesses in the period immediately after a lockdown.

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