This morning, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced grants of up to $5,000 for small businesses that lost money as consequent to the pandemic, which is a nod to the Avalon cluster.
However, this faced backlash as a café owner in Sydney’s Northern beaches says that the State Government’s grants program to relieve business struggling since the Christmas lockdown is na “insult”.
As this scheme was pushed through, businesses need to show the lockdown caused a 30 per cent reduction in turnover for a $3,000 grant, or a 50 per cent reduction in turnover for a $5,000 grant.
Last December, the northern beaches became the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak in the state. This resulted in more than 150 cases linked to a cluster at Avalon. It became worse across the Christmas period as the northern beach was separated into a northern and southern zone and strict restrictions were prevalent. It was January 14 when the last case to be linked to the cluster was recorded.
With these directives, Nourished Cafe and Lounge owner Jimmy Arslan noted that while he understood people needed funds, he considered the amount an insult.
“$5,000, to be honest they can have it, I don’t even want it. It’s going to do nothing to what we went through. On turnover value, it’s a pittance, it’s nothing. I took it as a personal insult.”
On defense for the package, Mr. Perrottet said the money would cover “unavoidable” expenses. “The result today is a fair result, a generous result, and something that will go a long way to helping many businesses get through it. We are incredibly grateful to the people of the beaches for what they did over summer and this is recognition for the sacrifices that they made,” he explained.
Mr. Aslan rejoined saying he’d prefer the State Government worked to incentivize people to visit the beaches. “We’re not a charity, we work hard, and we do what we do. The people who put us into lockdown, I do think they have an obligation at least during that lockdown to compensate all the businesses and individuals that lost a lot. I’d rather them just say they’re going to help with tourism and bring people here and encourage people from outside to come and shop and enjoy this area.”
There are measure that are noted to alleviate the tourism milieu as the State Government is looking to roll out Dine & Discover vouchers, announced in last year’s budget, to the region in February. This might mitigate the effects of the lockdown.
For instance, Liz Treloar, owner of Beaches Beauty in Avalon, said she was completely booked out before the lockdown. “The biggest problem for us is the amount of gift vouchers that we missed out on selling. We’re grateful for any help that they want to throw our way; we’re never going to say no. It’s not enough and it doesn’t cover what we will have missed out on over that Christmas period. They’re throwing a crumb and we’ll grab it.”