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Australia Compensate businesses hit by snap COVID lockdown, says Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

11:56  13 february  2021
11:56  13 february  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Victoria 's peak business group says companies should get compensation or assistance for being thrown into disarray as a result of the state's snap five-day coronavirus lockdown . Key points: The VCCI says the Andrews Government should help businesses hurt by the latest lockdown . Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said the Government needed to act quickly to support affected businesses to help them cope with the shutdown. "The amount of money that will be ripped up this weekend by hospitality, accommodation providers and

The Victorian Government promises 0 million to help businesses survive lockdown and implement an outdoor dining culture that will be enjoyed "for many summers" to come. It was welcomed by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry , which previously criticised the Government's restrictions roadmap as a "road to nowhere". "A good announcement today," CEO Paul Guerra said on Sunday. "Some great cash injections for businesses that really need that cash flow."

a person wearing a mask: Sheree Kerr was left in tears by a social media-driven last-minute rush to her Warragul Flower Shop for Valentine's Day flowers. (ABC Gippsland: Jarrod Whittaker) © Provided by ABC Business Sheree Kerr was left in tears by a social media-driven last-minute rush to her Warragul Flower Shop for Valentine's Day flowers. (ABC Gippsland: Jarrod Whittaker)

Victoria's peak business group says companies should get compensation or assistance for being thrown into disarray as a result of the state's snap five-day coronavirus lockdown.

From midnight Friday businesses deemed non-essential were forced to close and Victorians urged to stay home as the state grappled with an outbreak of the UK strain of the virus.

The announcement came on the eve of a weekend in which many were preparing to celebrate Valentine's Day and Lunar New Year, disrupting businesses in the hospitality, events and accommodation sectors.

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Victoria 's coronavirus case total has grown as the state begins its first day of a five-day lockdown . The health department said on Saturday a new case was recorded late Friday, taking the total number of cases to 20. From 11.59pm on Friday, Victoria entered a five-day Stage 4 lockdown amid fears the UK variant of Covid -19 was spreading in the community.

Victoria has declared a state of disaster, with surging coronavirus cases forcing Premier Daniel Andrews to impose tougher lockdown restrictions. These Stage Four restrictions mean Melbourne residents will need to abide by an overnight curfew for the next six weeks. “Stage four will mean the end for many businesses , with thousands more jobs set to be lost,” Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Paul Guerra said . “ Business will take a further hit with employees now also having to supervise school age children at home again, and childcare centres closed for the

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said the Government needed to act quickly to support affected businesses to help them cope with the shutdown.

"The amount of money that will be ripped up this weekend by hospitality, accommodation providers and event providers, is significant," Mr Guerra said.

"There will be food that will be thrown out because it won't be able to be used. There will be cancellations that will be made."

'Government's incompetence'

Halls Gap Zoo owner Greg Culell estimates he will lose up to $45,000 over the five days that his busines is closed.

"We have had numerous requests for refunds of money, which we always do, and we’ve gone from online sales averaging $2000 a day to nothing today," he said.

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Businesses can now call a Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 for the latest information on the COVID -19 response, how this affects businesses , how to keep their workplace safe and advice on how to plan for emerging situations and anticipate likely developments. If you need more support contact our Health, Safety and Wellbeing team: 03 8662 5196 HSW@victorianchamber.com.au Online enquiries. For information and assistance on any aspect of your employment obligations, the Victorian Chamber Workplace Relations Advice Line can help.

He said another 0 million would be put into a fund for hardship payments, small grants and tailored support which would be distributed in consultation with the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry , the Australian Hotels Association, the Australian Industry Group and other industry representatives. "Those businesses , the ones that might only have one or two employees, really don't have a lot of fat to live off," he said . "And we need to know how this fund will work because these are the businesses that are most at risk of closing their doors." Businesses already hit hard.

"We had to sell a home and our farm two kilometres from the zoo to cover the debts incurred during the second-wave closure, which was also caused by hotel quarantine.

"Us selling that would have given the State Government $35,000 in stamp duty. I believe that should come back to us.

"Our business is very strong and I’m not crying poor. The point is the Government’s incompetence."

Mr Culell said the Federal Government’s Jobkeeper program kept the zoo afloat during the second lockdown last year and he would need to continue paying 23 of his 24 employees full wages during the five-day closure.

Florist in tears at support

Gippsland florist Sheree Kerr said she was speechless after the local community rallied to buy her Valentine's Day stock.

When the lockdown was announced, Ms Kerr decided to keep her Warragul Flower Shop open until midnight to avoid having to throw her stock out and, thanks to social media, she had no shortage of customers looking to support her.

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Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said regional Victoria would also be negatively impacted by moving to stage three, particularly tourism, accommodation and hospitality, which would be "absolutely flattened". “ COVID -19 has led to a collapse in both demand and business confidence, and many businesses are responding by consolidating their operations and making savings where they can," Deloitte partner and report lead author, Stephen Smith said . “The timing of the recovery remains highly uncertain, as does the question of whether conditions will

Together, Victorian Chamber of Commerce and IndustryVCCI and AIG Group are calling for A Today, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Australian Industry Group As the COVID -19 pandemic continues to ravage businesses across Victoria They are a family who have stayed with us before and could not wait to re turn having made the booking before COVID -19 hit .

"People just came out in the droves," she said.

"I actually feel like crying. I'm just so moved by people supporting small businesses."

But Ms Kerr said people "who have lost their money or had to put stock in the bin" could need some support from government.

"'It's heartbreaking for people who've lost money just putting good stock in the bin ... It really is heartbreaking," she said.

Lockdown 'hard to swallow'

The Victorian Government's decision to lock down the state, despite no coronavirus cases in regional Victoria, was met with disappointment from some regional businesses.

Others accepted the need to prevent the dangerous UK variant of COVID-19 escaping into the regions from Melbourne, where 20 people are now infected.

During Victoria's second lockdown, different restrictions were in place in regional and metropolitan areas and police checkpoints were set up as part of the "ring of steel" around the city to prevent travel between the two zones.

Mr Guerra said regional businesses were finding the snap lockdown "hard to swallow" when all cases were in Melbourne.

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"What we're being told is that this is the UK variant that does move pretty quickly. So I guess ultimately, health [officials] decided that was the way to go. That does not make it any easier for regional businesses," he said.

"This is a clear breach of hotel quarantine and businesses continue to pay the price for the Government's inability to run quarantine effectively."

Premier flags business support

Premier Daniel Andrews said he recognised that the decision to force the state into lockdown was tough for traders and there would be further announcements about additional support for businesses .

"We've always had a willingness to to provide that support where it's needed," he said.

"But it does take a little bit of time to assess the challenge ... and once we're ready to make those announcements, we will."

There have been few cases in regional Victoria since the end of the state's second lockdown in 2020, but a number of exposure sites were listed in Gippsland after a virus carrier visited over the New Years holiday.

Mr Andrews said regional areas were included in the latest lockdown because there was not enough time to set up police checkpoints.

"If you have soft rules in the country and you have a much harder lockdown in a city ... people from Melbourne will go to the regions and they could potentially take the virus with them," he said.

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