Tenant and landlord relief, alfresco program part of new $67m WA funding for businesses

Tenant and landlord relief, alfresco program part of new $67m WA funding for businesses

Photo: Urlaubstracker, via Unsplash

The Western Australian Government has today launched an additional $67 million of assistance packages to support businesses affected by COVID-19.  

As cases start to increase exceptionally within the state, the measures aim to assist small businesses with cash flow and support safe trading.

The package includes up to $6,000 in rent relief, outdoor dining and entertainment support grants, as well as further funding for business counselling services.

"As COVID-19 caseloads continue to increase, and with some public health and social measures in place to manage the spread of the virus, we expect some businesses will experience declines in revenue,” Premier of WA Mark McGowan said.

"For some, this impact will be greater than others and likely put pressure on their cash flow. Our latest $67 million businesses support package recognises these impacts and supports those businesses most impacted to get through the next phase of the pandemic.

"Over the past two years, Western Australians have done the right thing and supported local businesses and now is the time to continue to patron WA businesses, venues and events.”

The new support, consisting of eight tailored packages, is in addition to the McGowan Government’s $77 million Safe Transition Industry Support Package released earlier in February.

Small Business Rental Relief Package

  • $42 million Tenant Rent Relief Scheme providing grants of $3,000 to eligible small business tenants;
  • $10.7 million Landlord Rent Relief Incentive supporting eligible landlords with $1,500 - who voluntary match the Government's Tenant Rent Relief payments; and
  • $1.5 million Tenant Rental Credit Scheme providing a rental waiver or credit of $6,000 for eligible small business tenants of Government-owned buildings.

Outdoor Dining and Entertainment Support Package

  • $5 million Alfresco Support Program to reimburse small businesses in the hospitality sector with up to $5,000 for eligible costs associated with creating and expanding an alfresco area to meet the requirements of public health and social measures; 
  • $3.5 million Waiver of Liquor Licensing fees. Liquor licence renewal fees for 2022 will be waived and refunds provided for businesses that have already paid. One-off fees for variations to liquor licensing to enable alfresco services will also be waived, and fees for a COVID-19 occasional permit will be waived to permit the sale of takeaway alcohol as part of a takeaway meal;
  • $1.8 million Nightclub Assistance Program payments of up to $50,000 for eligible nightclubs impacted by capacity limits and social distancing; and
  • $1.3 million Performing Arts, Theatres and Cinemas Assistance Program, providing payments of up to $50,000 to provide cash flow assistance to a range of larger, indoor entertainment venues that are particularly affected by capacity constraints.

Other business support

  • $1 million Small Business Financial Counselling and Advisory Services funding to expand small business support services administered by the Department of Communities.

McGowan said Western Australians could have confidence in safely going out and socialising with friends and family, thanks to the state's "world-leading vaccination rate and sensible public health measures".

"Under these Level 1 public health rules and by keeping up our COVID safe practices, we can continue to operate safely and keep businesses in business," he said.

"Our strong financial position by maintaining a healthy budget has given us the capacity to provide this immediate assistance.

"Since December, we have provided four financial support packages for WA businesses, including the Safe Transition Industry Support Package, ReconnectWA and grants for businesses impacted by the Delta backpacker outbreak, taking the total investment to assist WA businesses through the pandemic to date to $1.6 billion."

The Western Australian hard border is set to open on 3 March - the date WA is forecast to reach 70 per cent third dose vaccination of its eligible 16+ population, with several requirements in place for those entering the state.

Anyone wishing to enter WA will need a registered G2G pass and be fully vaccinated. Interstate arrivals over the age of 16 will need to be triple-dosed. International arrivals only need two doses of an approved vaccine as they fall under Commonwealth government requirements as opposed to state mandates.

If you are vaccinated, there is no requirement to quarantine, but the unvaccinated will need to complete hotel quarantine for 14 days. All vaccinated arrivals are required to take a rapid antigen test within 12 hours of arriving in WA.

The Perth, Peel, South West, Wheatbelt, Great Southern and Pilbara regions have been under Level 1 measures since Monday, 21 February.

Level 1 measures include private indoor capacity limits of up to 30 people and a capacity limit of 200 people at private outdoor gatherings as long as people can adhere to the 2sqm rule.

The 2sqm density rule also applies to venues including hospitability, fitness, entertainment, galleries and museums, hairdressers, nightclubs (with a 500-capacity limit), Perth Crown complex, convention centres and community, recreation and youth centre facilities.

Masks are mandatory for anyone aged 12 or above in an indoor setting other than the home, unless an exemption applies.

Weddings and funerals have to adhere to the same capacity limits, and proof of vaccination is required to enter most venues including Perth Zoo and Perth’s Optus stadium.

Perth recorded 610 new cases on 24 February, bringing the total active cases to 2,272. There are currently seven patients in hospital with COVID, but none are in ICU.

1.2 million of the population, over 16, have received three doses – 60.1 per cent of the population. Ninety-six per cent of people living in West Australia have been double vaccinated.

Further public health and social measures (Level 2) may be introduced in the future to help reduce increasing transmission of COVID-19 and hospitalisations, if necessary.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the Government’s $67 million support package.

“Covid cases are continuing to rise in WA and additional restrictions have been put in place, so a decline in revenue is inevitable for some businesses as they battle through this challenging period,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra said. 

“We’ve been in close contact with the WA Government discussing the ongoing challenges for small businesses, and we appreciate the speed in which they have put these supports in place as a direct result of our advocacy.

“Rent is a significant pain point for small business, and with limited customers shopping in physical stores at the moment, many will struggle to pay their operating costs. The rent relief grants will help cushion the blow from the current wave of new COVID cases and help businesses to keep the lights on and their doors open.”

Updated at 1:10pm AWST on 24 February 2022.

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