By Brendan Rees
Casey business groups say Daniel Andrews’ lockdown extension is hurting livelihoods and not providing “any sustainable or clear answers” as small businesses come to a “complete standstill”.
It comes as the State Government’s staged coronavirus recovery plan announced on 6 September will see non-essential retailers, pubs and restaurants, and hairdressers shuttered until 26 October – a date Mr Andrews said was “unlikely” to be brought forward.
Mark of Cranbourne, who has been banned from operating his own gardening business Release Mowing and Garden Care under stage-four restrictions, said he had lost 100 per cent of his income and called out the double standard of council grass cutters being allowed to work.
“I’m not allowed to do to the same thing in the same conditions. How the hell does the work?” the father of two said, adding he was capable of having no contact with clients and using contactless payment.
Under stage-four restrictions council public garden maintenance is a permitted industry, as defined by the State Government.
While Mark, who did not wish his surname to be identified, welcomed the State Government’s announcement on 13 September of a new support package which will see $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cash flow support for businesses, he didn’t hold out hope of returning to work on 28 September for construction and gardening industries if an average daily coronavirus cases remained between 30 and 50 over the previous 14 days, saying “who knows what the government is bloody doing”.
Dale Munckton, president of the Narre Warren Business Group, said businesses were hurting and being “challenged in ways we couldn’t have imagined at the start of the year”.
He welcomed the latest business support package but affirmed it was “essential that businesses be allowed to open up as soon as it is safe to do so”, adding the NWBG would offer free membership through to 1 July 2021.
Tooradin Business Association president Nicole Treffers said it was “pretty devastating to see business go to the wall”, adding many businesses believed Mr Andrews’ roadmap out of lockdown was “confusing and misleading”.
Ms Treffers said given the few cases of Covid-19 recorded in Tooradin, Warneet, Cannons Creek, and Blind Bight, the general community consensus was that State Government’s roadmap had “not provided any sustainable or clear answers to the Casey Coast Community region”.
“This region relies heavily on local support and unfortunately this region with extended lockdown the truth of the matter is that some businesses will not survive the next few weeks,” she said.
“People that live in this area, work in this area, socialise in this area and shop in this area. We are very much a closed region that supports one another.”
She added parents had also expressed concerns of children’s wellbeing, saying it was vital they go back to school and had regular activities reopened.
Judy Davis, president of the Cranbourne Chamber of Commerce, said businesses were suffering but maintained the community were “very loyal people and we can help our businesses by supporting them”.