Victoria endures another COVID lockdown as $250m SME support announced

As Victoria wades through yet another COVID lockdown, the Victorian government has released $250 million to help small and medium businesses make it through this current lockdown.

The funding allows 90,000 small to medium businesses and sole traders that have been forced to close to claim $2,500 to help cover their bills for this week.

The money is not expected to help print businesses directly as the industry is classified as an essential supply chain service and can operate during lockdowns but it may help the customers of print.

One Victorian printer, Tim Michaelides at Complete Colour, said the $2500 payment would do zero for printers but would support other businesses that need it.

COVID lockdown
Tim Michaelides, managing director, Complete Colour

“I think it is good for all the businesses that need it although it does nothing for print,” Michaelides told Sprinter.

“But it is a good initiative to help those that need it.

“Print should be in a position to stand on its own two feet now because we have been given the luxury of being able to keep operating.”

Michaelides said what would help print is building up COVID vaccination rates to at least 70 per cent of the population so the future risk of lockdowns would be removed.

“We are now at around 70 to 85 per cent (of pre-COVID levels) and we are probably going to be like that until 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated and there is no chance of a lockdown and we start getting back to normal and who knows when that is.”

The seven day Victorian lockdown is currently due to end at 11.59pm on Thursday June 3.

At this point all Victorians are only allowed to leave home for five reasons including authorised work or permitted education, shopping for necessary food and services, exercise, caregiving and COVID vaccination. Face masks must also be worn outdoors and indoors, other than in your home.

The Real Media Collective advisory

The Real Media Collective last week released an advisory note to help businesses navigate the latest lockdown and it can be found here.

CEO Kellie Northwood has recommended TRMC members undertake the following:

  • Clear and reiterated communication with all employees over the situation.
  • Ensure the ongoing currency of their COVID Safe Plans as a business priority.
  • Those employees that can work from home should be directed to do so.
  • Those employees that attend work are required to undertake safe practices in line with your COVID Safe Plan.
  • Ensure appropriate signage on COVID related safety requirements is displayed in the workplace.
  • Ensure adequate PPE is available in the workplace.
  • Employees attending work in our industry do not have to carry ‘permitted worker permits’ during this lockdown. However, communicate with your employees that
  • Masks must be worn in all settings in Victoria other than in an employee’s own home.

Business Costs Assistance Program

The Business Costs Assistance Program provides $2500 grants for eligible employing and non-employing businesses in sectors most impacted. This includes businesses operating in an industry that cannot operate under the circuit breaker restrictions and which cannot work remotely.

The program will open for applications on Wednesday June 2 (tomorrow) and will remain open for applications for three weeks.

With the JobKeeper safety net now gone, the Victorian Government says this funding will help provide vital support so businesses forced to close their doors can keep paying their bills and maintain their workforce.

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino has also flagged $20 million to help the events industry.

“This supports businesses who have been hardest hit by the circuit-breaker lockdown,” Merlino said.

A $20 million fund to help support event operators has also been launched and more information on this is yet to be released.

While these measures may not directly support print businesses, it is hoped they will in some way help the customers of print and thereby print.

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