Member for Morwell Russell Northe has today in State Parliament called upon the Minister for Small Business to consider the plight of local businesses that remain closed or who struggle to remain open due to COVID-19 restrictions and measures.
“I’ve been listening and talking with a number of local businesses over these past months and the fact of the matter is, many are really hurting and doing it tough”, Mr Northe began, speaking from Spring Street this afternoon. “Despite the relaxing of some restrictions and perception that business life is returning to normal, a number of businesses remain closed or only partially open and for many there appears to be little light at the end of the tunnel”.
“Whilst there have been recent announcements of reopening dates for some venues, there will be service restrictions and numbers imposed upon them, in some cases deeming it unbeneficial to consider a re-opening at this time”, Mr Northe continued.
“I’ve been in touch with a number of business owners across a myriad of sectors who also feel that the restrictions and necessary procedures are costing their businesses, and as support measures peel back, they are finding the balance very difficult to manage – which is completely understandable”.
Even though the Government has announced that cafés and restaurants will be able to cater for 50 patrons from 21 June, the reality is unless the 1 person per 4 square metre rule is amended then many of these same businesses will simply be unable to cater for any more customers than they do now due to the size of their premise.
In fact, many are already operating at a very limited capacity with some establishments who can normally accommodate approximately 40 dine in customers, but now this has been reduced to 8 or 9 – and nothing will change for them post 21 June.
“Whilst of course health is paramount in the current environment, we do need the existing business restrictions urgently reviewed and common sense apply to help the business community get through this pandemic”, Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe said, “I have been proud to observe the innovation and adaptability of so many local businesses and their staff in my community, in their endeavours to deliver goods and services in a variety of ways, but businesses need to be able to plan for the future and the lack of consistency and lack of information in some sectors has made future planning a very difficult or impossible proposition”.
And these same businesses have been doing the right thing and complying with the rules despite the flagrant disregard by others – but I do sincerely believe the Government needs to urgently review the restrictions in place, particularly the 1 person per 4 square metre rule.
“The Government really needs to understand the practical imposts these restrictions are having upon a diverse range of businesses in our community, and the frustration which is palpable given the inconsistencies that apply depending on which business or industry you operate in”, Mr Northe concluded