Business NSW is seeking urgent support from the government as Omicron has left small businesses unable to operate due to staff shortages. The peak body has called on short term support from the NSW Government to help businesses keep their doors open.
Daniel Hunter, Chief Executive for Business NSW said key issues are consumer confidence and staff shortages. He told the media: “It’s been a really challenging Christmas and New Year period for businesses of all sizes across industries as they battled with staff becoming infected and isolating, and a lack of consumer confidence.”
While the NSW Government has not resorted to lockdowns, an unofficial lockdown has been seen in the streets of Sydney as citizens have avoided the outbreak by staying home.
Hunter referred to it as an “imperfect storm” saying: “…customers voted with their feet and stated away from venues that would normally be thriving during Summer, those that did attend were met with venues that were severely understaffed.”
Business NSW is working with the government on a proposal for swift, short-term support.
The relief packages include:
- Allowing close contact employees to return to the workplace on the presentation of a negative at home RAT test, to reduce mandated isolation periods.
- An extension of the SME Summer Holiday Stock Guarantee. This initiative was initiallly designed to cover businesses affected by any snap lockdowns. Business NSW is requesting the government acknowledge many businesses are experiencing an unofficial lockdown. The extension would allow a business to apply for financial support if their presmise has been closed due to case, leading to majority staff stand-down for more than three days, or the requirement that staff abide by close contact instructions from NSW Health.
- An extension of commercial rent relief for commercial tenants who have closed or ceased trade between 15th of December and 14th of January due to COVID trade impacts.
- The reinstatement of the Hardship Review Panel to assess ongoing business impacts during 2022.
Mr Hunter said that far from seeking a “free hand out” businesses required “support to keep the doors open for the first three months of 2022.”
More to come.
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