Victorian businesses to share in $534m coronavirus support package

Melbourne’s CBD has been among the hardest hit areas due to coronavirus.
Melbourne’s CBD has been among the hardest hit areas due to coronavirus.

Victorian businesses will be provided with further support in the wake of the second coronavirus lockdown, with the State Government announcing a further $534 million support package.

The financial supported, announced on Friday morning, is being targeted at businesses directly affected by the restrictions on the Melbourne metropolitan area and Mitchell Shire, and includes cash grants, mental health support for business owners and relief for tourism operators who will have no Melbourne visitors for at least the next six weeks.

About $30 million has been set aside for the hospitality industry, $20 million for businesses in the Melbourne CBD, which the government says has been uniquely and acutely impacted by people not travelling into the city, and $36 million for mental health support.

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Any business within the lockdown areas will now be offered the $5000 support payment that was already made available to businesses within the cluster of Melbourne postcodes that were previously locked down.

Businesses will also be offered further payroll tax deferrals.

Announcing the package, Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas and minister for industry support and recovery, Martin Pakula say the $30 million fund for the hospitality sector is targeted at the “nighttime economy”, including large restaurants, pubs and clubs that were not eligible for the initial support offered to businesses in March and April.

Accommodation operators will receive a payment of $225 per night for any cancellation caused by the lockdown.

They also flagged further support in the coming weeks.

Pallas says it could take two to three years for Victoria to recover to the financial position it was expected to be in at the end of 2020.

“(There will be) literally billions of dollars written off the expected size of the Victorian economy,” he says.

Pallas says he expects unemployment levels in Victoria to hit 11%, after it reached 6.9% in recent days.

But it is not yet clear whether the JobKeeper scheme will be extended beyond its planned expiration date in September, with the Federal Government expected to provide an economic update later this month.