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How the Government is helping small business – and bar owners – survive

Interior of a bar

Australia, and indeed much of the world, is facing a war on two fronts right now; we are facing a health crisis and an economic crisis at the same time.

The hospitality industry knows this as well as another other. As much as it feels longer it is a week since we were put in lockdown and venues were closed in order to try and slow the health crisis, but that has brought economic vulnerability for many businesses, workers and owners in this industry.

Fortunately it does look like the Government is understanding the scale of the crisis and as such is putting unprecedented levels of support in place for businesses to keep operating and to be able to open on the other side of the crisis.

As well as the Job Keepers program, the Government has introduced a range of measures which are aimed at keeping businesses going through the crisis.

Speaking about help for business, the Treasurer said: “We have never lost sight of what the need is to cushion the harsh economic impact for Australians from the coronavirus as we build a bridge to the recovery. This is what the hibernation strategy has been all about. We are partnering with banks to support lending to their customers and the banks are providing a six month reprieve from having to make repayments.

“We are ensuring that tenants facing significant hardship as a result of the coronavirus, will have the security of a six-month moratorium on evictions. We’re working with the utility and the insurance companies who have a responsibility in this Team Australia moment to help their customers get to the other side.

“But most importantly of all, we have been focused on keeping Australians in jobs and Australian businesses in business. This has seen the government join with the banks to provide loans of up to $250,000, and we are providing cash payments of up to $100,000 to small and medium sized enterprises. Where people have tragically lost their job, we’ve effectively doubled the safety net with the new JobSeeker coronavirus supplement.”

Regarding the moratorium on evictions as a result of financial stress, the Prime Minister said:  “My message to tenants, particularly commercial tenants and commercial landlords, is a very straight-forward one.

“We need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out about looking at the businesses which have been closed, businesses that may have had a significant reduction in their revenues and we need landlords and tenants to sit down and come up with arrangements that enable them to get through this crisis so on the other side, the landlord has a tenant, which is a business that can pay rent and the business is a business that can re-emerge on the other side of this and be able to go on and employ people on the other side of these arrangements. And we want the banks to help them achieve this outcome.

“This is part of the hibernation approach where we want people bespoke, customised to their own circumstances to sit down and work these things out. There is no rulebook for this. We are in uncharted territory, but the goal should be shared. And that is a business that can reopen on the other side, not weighed down by excessive debts because of rental arrears.

“A landlord that has a tenant so they can continue into the future to be able to support the investments that they have made and banks that have clients, both the landlords and the businesses. The three of them working together to ensure those businesses can get through and be there on the other side.”

Bars and Clubs sister title, TheShout, has this story from Marianna Idas, the Principle at eLease Lawyers, who has compiled this helpful information for leaseholders who have been affected by COVID-19.

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