Lockdown in Canberra: Companies warned of difficult times after lockdown extension | The Canberra Times

Lockdown in Canberra: Companies warned of difficult times after lockdown extension |  The Canberra Times

news, act-politics, coronavirus, canberra, act, business, support, lockdown, andrew barr

The business and hospitality sectors in the ACT say tough times will come, following the extension of the area’s lockdown for another two weeks. Industry groups warn that a further extension of the lockdown would be disastrous unless the government gives companies even more support. Support grants for struggling businesses have doubled in response to the lockdown extension, which will increase the total lockdown time for the area to more than a month. Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that the lockdown would be extended until midnight Friday, September 17. He said that as the ACT began to contain the outbreak, more time was needed. “It’s a slow process and it will take more time. We still have unlinked cases in the community and we still have cases that are contagious in the community,” he said. “We ask Canberrans to stay at home and minimize close contact with others outside your household to reduce transmission potential.” The ACT reported 13 new Covid cases on Tuesday. The total number of cases linked to the outbreak is 274. While the lockdown has been extended, there is a slight easing of restrictions on the advice of ACT Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerryn Coleman. From Thursday evening, Canberrans will be allowed to exercise outside for two hours, from one hour. Up to five people are allowed to gather outside to exercise, and outdoor playgrounds will also reopen. Gardeners and landscape architects can get back to work. A maximum of 10 people can attend a wedding and 20 people a funeral. Mr Barr also said housing construction could resume on Friday, September 10, but this was subject to health advice. In light of the extension, the ACT and federal governments have doubled aid amounts for businesses affected by the lockdown. Canberra businesses that have experienced at least a 30 percent drop in sales can now claim a grant of up to $20,000, if they have employees. Non-operating businesses can receive a $7,500 grant. More than 3,700 businesses have applied for payments since it opened last week. The CEO of the Canberra Business Chamber, Graham Catt, welcomed the increase in the subsidy, but said companies face difficult times in the future. He said any further extension of the lockdown would require additional support or could lead to insolvencies. “We don’t have the JobKeeper payments flowing through the companies, we are really entering uncharted waters in many ways for many companies and for the economy,” said Mr. Catt. Hospitality businesses could “tread water” with aid payments over the next two weeks, said Anthony Brierley, general manager of the Australian Hotels Association ACT. But he was incredibly concerned about what it would mean for the industry if the lockdown were extended. “That would be disastrous — if we’re on this for a few more months, it’s going to be tight,” Brierley said. ACT Senator Zed Seselja worked with the regional government on the business support package and said that if the number of cases did not reach zero, there had to be a plan to live with the virus. “If the ACT government fails to get the numbers completely under control in the coming weeks, then I think they’ll have to figure out a way – with very high vaccination rates, which is great – that we can live with the virus.” , rather than imposing crippling ongoing lockdowns until you reach zero, which we know of course can be very, very hard to achieve in many cases,” he said. MORE COVID-19 NEWS: Grants will go to businesses in the coming days flows, but opposition leader Elizabeth Lee has again expressed concern about delays in payments, saying in a letter to the Chief Minister that the Canberra Liberals had been approached by a large number of entrepreneurs who said they would have to wait up to 30 days for applications The construction industry also welcomed the proposed Sept. 10 restart, but Housing Industry Association executive director Greg Weller warned that further delays to the reopening date would be detrimental. “This lockdown has been very hard on the housing sector and it is important that we get back to work as soon as possible,” said Mr Weller. “Unlike many in the community who are able to work from home, they are not paid when construction does not work. Even when there is no construction activity on site, the economic benefits of new homes and building renovations for the ACT economics are lost.” Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this COVID-19 outbreak in the ACT and the lockdown is free to everyone. However, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism. If you can, register here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates. Our journalists work hard to provide local, current news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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