Victorian businesses are set to receive $2.27 billion worth of grants in a new package funded by the Commonwealth and State governments, adding to $6.6 billion committed since July to help cover wages, rent, utilities and other costs during lockdown.
The news follows yesterday's announcement from Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg about how COVID-19 disaster payments will be wound back once states and territories hit vaccination targets.
The state has also crossed the 1,000-mark for new daily cases of COVID-19, as the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) this morning reported 1,438 new cases for yesterday; well in excess of the numbers in New South Wales where the current Delta wave began.
But the state is pressing on with its Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan, with the latest funding aimed at supporting around 160,000 businesses through the next six weeks until Victoria is expected to reach 80 per cent vaccination - a milestone due to be reached on 5 November, after a 70 per cent target is likely hit by 26 October.
Around 24,000 eligible businesses will receive automatic Business Costs Assistance Program grants ranging from $1,000 to $8,400 per week, rising according to payroll, until the end of October.
Businesses that remain closed or severely restricted over the first two weeks of November will also receive automatic payments for that period.
More than 9,000 eligible cafes, restaurants, hotels and bars across Victoria will receive automatic Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund payments of between $5,000 and $20,000 per week until the end of October.
Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund payments will continue for the first half of November, set at reduced rates to reflect lower restrictions in place at that stage under Victoria’s Roadmap.
The package will also enable a further 30,000 businesses to receive a one-off $20,000 payment through the Small Business COVID Hardship Fund, taking the number of recipients to 65,000.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said today's package is on top of the Federal Government's more than $45 billion in direct economic support to Victorian households and businesses since the start of the pandemic.
"The Morrison Government understands the significant impact lockdowns and border closures have had on small and medium businesses across Victoria which is why safely opening up in line with the plan agreed at National Cabinet is so important," Frydenberg said.
"We can’t eliminate the virus, we need to learn to live with it in a COVID-safe way. Our economy has bounced back strongly before once restrictions are eased and is well positioned to do so again when lockdowns lift."
The Victorian Government has to date provided more than $10 billion in direct financial support for businesses over the course of the pandemic – before today’s new $1.1 billion commitment to the joint package.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the funding will ensure businesses have the best chance of sustaining the final weeks of lockdown and recovering strongly.
“Victorian businesses have endured so much over the past 20 months and they’ve been amazingly resilient as we’ve faced challenge after challenge," Pallas said.
"We are opening up and our Roadmap shows us how we get there – this jointly funded package will underpin businesses across the state, help them to keep their workers on and plan for a really positive future.”
“We know that the bills don’t stop just because revenue does and we are proud to stand with the businesses that form the backbone of our economy.”
Victorian Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula said the funding for business was an important part of a comprehensive plan for re-opening.
“Vaccination is our way out of the pandemic and as more and more Victorians roll up their sleeves, those key double-dose targets are in sight,” Pakula said.
“Once we open up, it’s vital for everyone that we can stay open. That’s businesses owners, their workers and suppliers and their customers," he said.
“The Vaccinated Economy trials starting in little over 10 days will be another important step for businesses as we move steadily and safely to greater freedoms.”
According to Covid19data.com.au, 53.4 per cent of the Australian population aged 16 years and over has received a COVID-19 vaccine, with the percentage slightly lower at 50.4 per cent for the population aged 12 years and over.
These percentages however are distorted by a much higher vaccination rate in Australia's most populous state of NSW, where 62.9 per cent of people aged 16 or older have had two doses. This compares to 63.2 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory, 57.8 per cent in Tasmania, 51.9 per cent in the Northern Territory, 49.1 per cent in Victoria, 49 per cent in South Australia, 45.9 per cent in Western Australia, and 46.2 per cent in Queensland
Updated at 9:42am AEST on 30 September 2021.
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