small business Health | February 16, 2021
Regional businesses again pay the price for Labor’s failures
Regional Victorian families and businesses are suffering the consequences of the Andrews Labor Government’s ongoing mismanagement of Victoria’s hotel quarantine and contact tracing systems.
Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy expressed grave concerns about the effect of the current lockdown on regional economies and businesses as many were just starting to get back on their feet.
She said the Premier had reassured Victorians that the state’s hotel quarantine program was one of the leading systems in the country, which made being plunged back into lockdown by another breach in the system a bitter pill to swallow.
“There’s no excuse for failing to do the work to improve contact tracing and quarantine systems to ensure that an outbreak in the city won’t require a statewide closure. But again, we’re back in lockdown and regional businesses are collateral damage,” she said.
“Victorians have always been prepared to do what’s needed to get this virus under control, but wholesale closures should be a last resort. With the right systems in place we should be able to keep our businesses open while also protecting public health, but this latest lockdown shows Labor is incapable of protecting Victorians with its current public health response.”
Ms Kealy said she had been contacted by dozens of business owners disillusioned and distressed that they had been forced to close yet again.
“The pain of last year is fresh in the minds of people across the Lowan electorate, who still carry the mental and financial scars of 2020,” she said.
“I’ve had business owners tell me that this lockdown forced them to throw out thousands of dollars in stock they had purchased for the Valentine’s Day weekend, while others are distraught that the business they worked so hard to build and grow will not survive if lockdowns continue.
“Confusion about trading rules also forced some essential businesses to cease operations and lose tens of thousands of dollars, only to later be told they are allowed to operate. The financial and mental toll of this snap lockdown is immense.”
Ms Kealy said many business owners wanted to see Victoria adopt rapid localised COVID restrictions like NSW did during its northern beach outbreak.
“The NSW Government demonstrated you don’t have destroy the economy, punish workers, slam borders shut or sacrifice the education of young people to get on top of COVID outbreaks,” she said.
“A proportionate response that balances the economy and people’s mental wellbeing is desperately needed in Victoria, and I urge the Premier to do the work to improve his systems so this is possible.”
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