South Australia to give grants to business firms affected by Covid restrictions

The state government of South Australia has launched a $40 million assistance package for firms affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

Last Monday, density limits in cafes and restaurants were reduced from 75% to 25% ahead of the traditionally crowded New Year’s Eve period, while gyms and fitness centres were limited to one person every 7 square metre in response to escalating Covid-19 case numbers across the state.

South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas announced today that from next week, qualified tourism and hospitality businesses, as well as gyms, will receive automatic cash payments of up to $11,000.

Businesses with a 30% drop in turnover in the two weeks beginning December 27 will be eligible for a second cash reward, which will be available on application.

Mr Lucas explained that while the awards were intended for firms in the hospitality, tourist, and gym industries, the government also established an application process for businesses in other areas that were affected.

Other qualified businesses that achieved a 50% drop in turnover within the same time period will be eligible for up to $8,000 in grants.

Mr Lucas said the plan was the government’s ninth initiative since the outbreak began, and that 4,000 businesses would pre-qualify for the first part of the subsidies.

“The maximum amount of combined subsidies awarded to tourist, hotel, and gym/fitness-related enterprises will be $20,000 or $22,000,” Mr Lucas said.

“An extra $2,000 if you’re a CBD firm, considering that the government’s policy to encourage individuals to work from home has clearly resulted in a large reduction in foot traffic and office workers within the CBD since the implementation of limitations.”

“At the highest level, awards will be $20,000 or $22,000, and at the lowest level, grants will be $6,000 or $8,000.”

Major events that have to be cancelled or postponed between December 27 and January 27 will be eligible for an award of up to $100,000.

For qualifying hospitality enterprises, the assistance package also includes a six-month postponement of payroll tax payments and a waiver of liquor licence fees.

If the limits remain in place, Mr Lucas said the government will consider another round of cash grants, which he said had not yet been decided.

“We’ve always said we’ve got two priorities: save as many lives as we can, which we’ve done amazingly well in despite the tragic circumstances of the last two days,” he said. “Then we’ve got to rescue as many jobs and businesses as we can.”

“We won’t be able to save them all, but we’ve done pretty well, as seen by our recent economic growth data and the fact that our unemployment rate has dropped dramatically.”

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