With no clear end in sight to Sydney's lockdown, the City Council plans to dish out grants, masks and food in a bid to help struggling residents.
The rescue package will set Sydney council back $5 million in grants and donations, plus an additional $7.8 million in estimated revenue foregone each month.
"The pandemic has had a severe impact on our community and economy. We are providing support through the crisis and ensuring we're ready to help breathe life back into the city when lockdowns are lifted," Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
"Funding the provision of food and masks and offering rapid response grants to community organisations and initiatives will help us support our most vulnerable."
Though the news comes just one week after the announcement of the multi-billion dollar 2021 COVID-19 Support Package, released jointly by the NSW and federal governments, Moore gave short shrift to Canberra in today's announcement.
"The need for such drastic action highlights just how serious the situation is. It also highlights just how seriously we have been let down by the Federal Government," she said.
"We need an urgent rollout of vaccines, greater health and safety in quarantine for incoming travellers and more support for businesses and people including the urgent reinstatement of JobKeeper.
"It is the federal government's role to look after people. It is the State government's role to look after businesses. It is the City's role to reinvigorate the CBD and attract workers, visitors and tourists back to support our businesses when the time comes but we must survive before we can look to recovery."
The package covers:
- $4 million in grants for businesses and creatives to work on initiatives to support reactivation post-lockdown.
- $8.9 million cash and value-in-kind through existing City grant programs.
- Donations of $300,000 each for OzHarvest and Foodbank and $100,000 for SecondBite, in order to help vulnerable communities access food.
- An additional $250,000 in new Covid-19 community emergency quick response grants.
- $50,000 for masks for vulnerable communities and connecting people with mental health services.
- Extension of the outdoor dining program and waiving of associated fees through to 30 June 2022.
- Continuing existing fee waivers for footway dining, venue hire, banners, parking services, childcare and health and compliance activities, as well as offering rent rebates on certain City-owned properties for the lockdown period, estimated to cost $7.8 million per month.
The lockdown recovery package adds to the $20 million CBD revitalisation fund established by the City and NSW government in October 2020, aimed at boosting the city centre economy and supporting businesses over the summer months.
The Lord Mayor also said that, moving beyond the current crisis, the Council would continue to zero in on stimulating the local economy.
"As restrictions ease, we will once again need to revitalise our city and attract workers and visitors back safely. We are opening an exciting new grants program that will encourage neighbouring businesses and creatives to collaborate on events and activations that will enliven whole city precincts," she said.
"We will continue to work closely with the NSW Government to help businesses reopen, attract patrons and operate in a Covid-safe way when the lockdown lifts."
Affected businesses will be able to seek information on how to access these grants through a concierge service operated by the City, which has provided one-on-one advice since the outset of the pandemic.
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