The Victorian Government has announced new support for small businesses, including sole traders which have been impacted by the covid-19 circuit-breaker action. Operators from businesses in industries such as; hospitality, events, tourism and the creative industries are all set to benefit from these grants.

The $143 million Circuit Breaker Support Package is expected to help more than 50,000 Victorian businesses – including restaurants, confectioners, hairdressers, florists, accommodation providers, musicians and performers – who incurred costs such as the loss of cancelled gigs, perishable goods, and foregone trading. The package contains four initiatives targeted at businesses, including small and micro businesses.

The new support package has been introduced as a result of the five-day lockdown which began on Friday 12th February. The recent lockdown coincided with Valentine’s Day, The Australian Open and Lunar New Year. Valentine Day’s and Lunar New Year are up there with some of the busiest days of the year for florists and restaurants. Restaurant menu items and flowers that were destined to be sold unfortunately had to go to waste. The Australian Open continued to proceed without crowds for 5 days. The influx of people travelling to Melbourne to watch the Australian Open each year has a huge impact on driving sales in retail stores and cafes across Melbourne.

As a result of the snap lockdown an Italian restaurant in Melbourne’s inner suburbs can reveal that it lost somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000 dollars in turnover. Apart from not being able to have customers dine in their venue for five days, they also lost money on dairy products and seafood that had to be thrown out. The loss off stock has a flow on effect into the following week, as restaurants are no longer placing food orders to get new stock due to their businesses closure. However, when the restaurant re-opens they are likely to be low on stock and will have to wait for new food supplies to arrive. This means that the business may not have all the ingredients required to make all their menu items upon re-opening.

The new $92 million Business Costs Assistance Program will offer grants of $2,000 for eligible employing and non-employing businesses in the hospitality, tourism, food wholesaling, events and selected retail industries. Businesses that have an annual payroll of up to $3 million will be eligible.

An injection of $24.9 million into the the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will give previous recipients of this grant an automatic one-off payment of $3,000 per premises. Over $165 million has already been paid to over 7,500 businesses via this fund.    

Following the success of the Regional Travel Voucher Scheme, a another $10 million will expand the scheme to include a new Melbourne Travel Voucher Scheme, consisting of 40,000 vouchers for $200 for travel in greater Melbourne, and an additional 10,000 vouchers to support travel in regional Victoria.  

$200 vouchers designated for travel in regional Victoria and Melbourne will further strengthen tourism businesses and workers, while licenced venues and accommodation businesses will receive dedicated new support as vibrancy has begun returning to Melbourne’s nightlife scene and tourist destinations.