Over the weekend further announcements were made by both the state and federal governments regarding COVID-19.
Some of these announcements caused confusion after the Victorian Government said all “non-essential” businesses would close. This has since been amended to a narrow list of businesses under stage 1 restrictions.
STAGE 1 RESTRICTIONS
The following businesses have closed from midday Monday:
• Pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation);
• Gyms and indoor sporting venues;
• Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs;
• Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery; and
• Religious gatherings, places of worship (except for funerals and weddings).
These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.
At this stage, all other businesses can continue to trade, while observing social distancing measures.
Many of our pubs, restaurants and cafes are now offering take-away and home delivery following their closure on Monday. Please take up these options and continue to buy your morning coffee and cake or takeaway for lunch or dinner. If we continue to shop local, we will help keep more local people in work.
SCHOOLS AND CHILDCARE CENTRES
For state schools, holidays have been brought forward and started on Tuesday March 24. Teachers and staff have been advised to prepare flexible and remote learning programs for students.
At this stage, early childhood services remain open.
SUPPORT FOR THOSE SELF-ISOLATING
The Victorian Government has promised to deliver care packages to those self-isolating who don’t have anyone nearby to support them.
Please share this information with those who might need assistance and encourage them to phone the coronavirus hotline for more details: 1800 675 398.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES
Federal Government support
The Federal Government has announced $66 billion in measures to support businesses during this difficult time. Information on each program can be found here or via the fact sheets linked below:
• Boosting cash flow for employers
• Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
• Increasing the instant asset write-off
• Backing business investment
• Supporting apprentices and trainees
I strongly encourage you to read through these fact sheets to check your eligibility for support, talk to your accountant, or call the ATO for more information on 1800 806 218.
Victorian Government support
The Victorian Government is providing full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with a payroll of less than $3 million. The same businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020-21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
They have also announced the following support for businesses in Victoria:
• Business Support Fund – to assist small to medium businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. There are limited details about this program at present however you can register your interest to receive more information here.
• Waiving of rent for businesses in government buildings;
• Waiving of 2020 liquor licencing fees;
• Commitment to pay State Government invoices within 5 days; and
• Business Victoria Hotline – to provide advice and support to help workplaces plan and respond to COVID-19: 13 22 15.
Support from Australian banks
The Australian banks have announced that they will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months. You can contact the major banks about this announcement on the following numbers:
ANZ: 1800 351 548
CBA: 132 607
NAB: 1300 769 650
Westpac: 132 142
SUPPORT FOR THOSE WITHOUT WORK
The Victorian Government has established the Working for Victoria Fund to assist people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. The fund aims to put people in paid jobs that will help to manage the event and support the community.
Applications are not currently open however you can register your interest here.
SUPPORT FOR HOUSEHOLDS AND INDIVIDUALS
The Federal Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.
The government is also making two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
Access to superannuation has also been made available under specific criteria.
More detailed information is available here.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
The impact of COVID-19 can lead to feelings of anxiety and concern. Try to remember that health professionals and governments are working to contain the virus and keep our community safe.
Make sure you get regular fresh air, exercise as appropriate and keep in touch with family and friends.
Please make sure you pass this information on to those that need it most. Beyond Blue also has some excellent resources to help you through this difficult time – you can find them here.
The Australian Psychological Society also has a useful brochure containing information on how to deal with anxiety. You can access it here.
IF YOU BECOME UNWELL
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, breathing difficulties, cough, sore throat, and fatigue or tiredness. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398. Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.
Locally, screening and assessment clinics have been established at Wimmera Health Care Group in Horsham and at Western District Health Service in Hamilton.
If you think you have COVID-19, the hotline above is still the first port of call.
It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources such as those listed below:
• Australian Government COVID-19 health alert
• Victorian Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 daily update
WE’RE STILL HERE TO HELP
As directed by the Parliament of Victoria, unfortunately my office is closed for walk-in and face-to-face meetings until further notice. However we are still on deck and we can be reached via phone and email. If you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will do our best to assist you: email email@example.com or phone 5382 0097.