28 July 2021

The region’s peak business organisation, Business Illawarra says the extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown by four weeks is a crushing blow for local businesses of all sizes, and many may not recover, although new support for business will be gratefully received.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has formally announced the extension until 28 August as COVID 19 cases continue at stubbornly high levels, and unfortunately Wollongong and Shellharbour Local Government Areas have remained on the list of LGAs of concern.

“In some good news for Illawarra businesses, both the Federal and State Governments have answered our call to extend the JobSaver program to make it more scalable and to assist larger businesses,” said Business Illawarra Executive Director Adam Zarth.

“The program has now been extended with a maximum weekly payment of $100,000, up from $10,000 to businesses with a turnover of up to $250 million,” Mr Zarth said.

“That’s going to provide significant support for businesses with a large workforce that have suffered a 30% reduction in turnover.”

“We will continue our advocacy to have greater industrial relations flexibility introduced on a temporary basis to allow businesses to direct staff to undertake other duties as their operations pivot under lockdown.”

“Otherwise, the confirmation that construction can resume on Saturday is a welcome development and will mean some businesses can get going again under strict conditions, giving some certainty to business owners and their employees.”

“In simple terms, construction work can proceed outdoors under strict COVID-safe conditions, while indoor work, including maintenance, can proceed so long as the home owner is not in the premises at the time.”

“Unfortunately, there’s no re-opening when it comes to industries with a high concentration of employees like retail and hospitality in Wollongong and Shellharbour, meaning many business owners and their employees will continue to suffer.”

“We call on the community to continue to support local businesses in any way possible, and we implore councils to examine how they can also support them by waiving (or deferring) rates, fees and other charges wherever possible.”

“The only way out of this is to keep up compliance with government restrictions and for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Mr Zarth said.