Byron Bay effectively went into lockdown as Covid-19 restrictions impacted how businesses could operate.
Byron Bay effectively went into lockdown as Covid-19 restrictions impacted how businesses could operate.

Calls for clarity to help small businesses prepare

SMALL businesses are hoping for clarity on when they might be able to reopen.

With Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggesting 10,000 spectators could be allowed in major sporting venues by July, some business operators have been left frustrated by lack of certainty on the next steps away from Covid-19 shutdowns.

Business NSW Northern Rivers regional manager Jane Laverty said some business owners were feeling frustrated “particularly after seeing, on the weekend, large groups of people together and talk of bringing crowds back to football stadiums”.
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“When you’ve got an event business or a service business and you’re unable to bring that business back in, it does mean you’re a little bit frustrated,” Ms Laverty said.

“They’re just saying, if you’re talking about that happening in stadiums … talk about it happening in our business as well.”

She said these businesses wanted a timeline as they couldn’t prepare to fully reopen overnight.

Some Northern Rivers businesses have been able to change the way they work, with many cafes having offered takeaway in the time they couldn’t seat patrons.

“Some have probably grown through the challenges,” Ms Laverty said.

“We have quite a number of businesses still that are not opening to full capacity.

“They’re looking toward that later part of the year and see it as quite a challenge at the moment.”

One source of uncertainty is the future of JobKeeper payments, which is being reviewed with an announcement expected on July 23.

“It’s all about timing which is one of the reasons we’re really looking for some certainty right now,” Mr Laverty said.

“They need to have a bit of a schedule, a bit of a timeframe.”

She was hopeful the visitor economy, vital to towns like Byron Bay, would emerge from the pandemic in a reasonable state.

“There’s a lot of confidence around replacing that with the domestic visitor, but then we have a lot of regions looking to attract that domestic visitor,” she said.

She said there had already been “a real spike in vibrancy in main streets” across northern NSW.

While a lot of retail spending would traditionally leak into Queensland, the border closure has helped to encourage residents to support local businesses.

As businesses work to survive in this difficult climate, Ms Laverty urged people to be understanding.

“(Businesses) need us, as a community, to be really mindful and supportive with our businesses and their staff,” she said.
Ms Laverty encouraged small business to apply for $10,000 grants available through Service NSW at https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-small-business-covid-19-support-grant.

She said business owners should not self-assess their eligibility for the grants.


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