Australia’s small and medium businesses are the engine room of our economy. When they hurt, we all hurt. We need to help businesses keep going as best as they can and for as long as they can. We want to see Bega Valley Shire's businesses bounce back after we get through this current crisis. Updated 7 August 2020.
The COVID-crisis continues, with the NSW government establishing a strict new border zone, tightened permit conditions and stronger enforcement powers to further restrict entry to NSW for Victorians. Under the Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control) Amendment Order 2020, new border entry rules apply from 22 July. Changes have been made to the eligibility criteria for permits and a border zone resident has been redefined. People will have to reapply for a new permit to enter NSW from Victoria. Further information on this is on our dedicated COVID Border Closure webpage.
Gymnasiums - As at 1 August, gymnasiums (indoor recreation facilities, excluding dance, yoga, Pilates, gymnastics or martial arts studies) in NSW will be required to host ‘COVIDSafe marshals’ under a new state government effort to stem the tide of COVID cases across the state. The marshals, which are already required for large pubs in NSW, ensure social distancing, cleaning and other hygiene measures mandated under the state’s COVIDSafe business plans are adhered to.
The amended Public Health Order has clarified the 4 square metre rule does not apply to a vessel used for commercial tours for scuba diving, snorkelling or whale, dolphin or marine animal watching.
Pubs - New rules were introduced on 17 July to pubs across NSW limiting group bookings to a maximum of 10 people and cap the number of customers inside a venue to 300 people. Dedicated Hygiene Marshalls will patrol venues to keep customers safe and ensure the mandatory implementation of a COVIDSafe plan.
Restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs - These compliance measures will be extended to restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs from 12.01am on Friday 24 July. This includes limiting group bookings to a maximum of 10 people, mandatory COVID-Safe plans and registration as a COVID-Safe business and a digital record created within 24 hours. Venues are on notice – NSW Police, Liquor & Gaming inspectors and NSW Health officials will carry out inspections across the state to ensure COVIDSafe plans are being followed.
Complete a COVIDSafe plan - help protect your staff, customers and visitors with a COVIDSafe plan. Some businesses will need to complete a COVIDSafe plan under the public health orders, but you can also voluntarily complete one.
Register as a COVIDSafe business - as a COVIDSafe business, you’ll be able to show customers that you’re committed to keeping them safe. Customers will also be able to provide feedback in real-time.
COVIDSafe badges - check, test and promote your COVIDSafe credentials with the online COVID Safe Check. This online tool provides industry specific information, hygiene posters and downloadable badges for businesses with COVIDSafe plans to display in their premises. Feedback is sent to the business and, if necessary, to the regulator for action.
Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 can call the Business Helpline on 13 28 46.
There are a range of measures to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes a temporary hold on evictions and a mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by coronavirus. This follows the mandatory Commercial Tenancy Code released by the federal government. The Code is by the state government.
There are regulations in place to assist commercial tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19. Both parties are required to negotiate rent relief agreements in good faith. Step-by-step guidance is available to help with the negotiation process.
Around 200,000 licence holders operating in the trades and construction sectors will not have to pay to renew their licence for the next 12 months. Businesses in the entertainment and hospitality sectors have also been given a year-long waiver on liquor licences and certain SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading fees and charges.
The NSW government is calling on manufacturers in NSW to help fill gaps in the global supply of medical equipment and hygiene products. If you have the ability to convert production lines into making the items desperately needed, register your interest through the COVID-19 Emergency Supplies registration portal. End 31 December 2020.
Employee rights and workplace responsibilities to help business owners manage the impact of the COVID-19 are listed on the NSW Government website.
The outbreak of COVID-19 impacts people in different ways and it is completely understandable that some may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage. The Australian Government Department of Health’s Head to Health website has a dedicated section dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
It is extremely important to seek out help if you feel you need it.
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978
Headspace on 1800 650 890
The Australian Government has a dedicated COVID-19 website containing regularly updated essential COVID news and advice from government agencies across Australia.
From 28 April 2020, eligible businesses will receive a tax-free cash flow boost of between $20,000 and $100,000 through credits in the activity statement system when you lodge all relevant activity statements. You do not need to apply for the cash flow boost. All you need to do is lodge your March and quarter 3 activity statements on their due date and no earlier. Full details about eligibility, timing and what you need to do are on the ATO website.
If your small business has been affected by the bushfires, free help is available from a financial counsellor through the Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line 1800 413 828. Small business financial counsellors that are part of this service are qualified professionals who provide advice to small business owners and sole traders in financial difficulty. Their services are non-judgmental, free, independent and confidential.
The federal government is extending the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme for small and medium sized businesses until June next year. The maximum loan size will be increased to $1 million and terms expanded from a maximum of three years to five, under a plan to help businesses restart their operations over the December quarter. The expanded Scheme will shift from providing access to working capital to helping businesses stay afloat during the crisis to now also enabling them to access more affordable and longer term credit so that they can invest for their future. The initial phase of the Scheme remains available for new loans issued by eligible lenders until 30 September 2020. The second phase of the Scheme will start on 1 October 2020 and will be available until 30 June 2021.
The threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive will be temporarily increased. There will also be temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise due to the COVID-19.
Individuals in financial stress due to the COVID-19 will be allowed to apply online through myGov for access of up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020, and then access a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for another three months. They will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
Eligibility to income support payments has been temporarily expanded and a new, time-limited COVID supplement established, to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. The supplement will be paid to 31 December.
The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million). The deadline for this scheme may be extended to 31 December 2020.
The HomeBuilder initiative has been announced providing eligible owner-occupiers with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. Construction must be contracted to commence within three months of the contract date. HomeBuilder aims to support direct and related jobs in the residential construction sector including businesses and sole-trader builders, contractors, property developers, construction materials manufacturers, engineers, designers and architects. The initiative will close on 31 December 2020.
A time limited 15-month investment incentive to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. This applies to eligible assets acquired from 12 March 2020 and first used or installed by 30 June 2021. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost.
Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted interim authorisation for Suncorp, Allianz and QBE Insurance to provide bill relief to struggling small businesses for up to six months, but is open to be extended to 31 December. Other insurance companies will be allowed to participate as well, provided they notify the ACCC.
As the situation around COVID-19 continues, many employees are working from home and may incur expenses that they can claim at tax time. The ATO is introducing a new method which will allow people to claim 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses. The change applies from 1 March to 30 June 2020, after which the ATO will review the arrangement for the next financial year as the COVID-19 crisis progresses.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regularly updates it Coronavirus webpage with essential information about tax and superannuation changes that are now law under the government’s Economic Support Package. If you are impacted by COVID-19 and require immediate assistance, contact the ATO on its Emergency Support Infoline – 1800 806 218.
The Australian Department of Health has developed four posters for small businesses to alert customers to changed hours, temporary changes, temporary closure, good hygiene practices.
The Industry Capability Network (ICN) has established a portal to manage construction and manufacturing supply chain shortages due to COVID-19, including identifying gaps in the supply chain and determining how it can facilitate local businesses to fill these gaps.
The COVID-19 Response portal allows local manufacturers and construction companies to notify ICN about their supply chain shortages, current or anticipated, so that the Network can assist them to identify potential alternative suppliers locally. Through the same portal, companies can also register their interest in providing key goods and services that are likely to enter a position of short supply.
Local businesses are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest in a number of federal and state government requests for supplies across a range of products and services, even if re-tooling is required.
PLEASE NOTE that this portal is separate to the Bega Valley Shire Council's temporary Civil Works Panel, to which you should also register.
The Australian Banking Association says banks will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months. The small business relief package will apply to more than $100 billion of existing small business loans and depending on customer take up, could put as much as $8 billion back into the pockets of small businesses as they battle through these difficult times. Any small business who has not already been contacted should contact their bank to apply.
With so many of us working from home, some telecommunication providers are helping us stay connected during this trying time by offering free additional data and suspending late payment fees. They also have some messages about customer support. Contact your telco supplier for more information.
Many energy retailers will offer some form of Financial Hardship Support that can involve deferred billing and partial payment plans. We advise you contact your supplier straight away to discuss alternative payment options. They should be able to explain your options, such as an extension to pay, paying in instalments or applying for hardship and financial support programs.
The Australian Energy Regulator has completed a major redevelopment project to improve its free and independent energy plan and price comparison website, Energy Made Easy. Energy Made Easy can help NSW small businesses and households find and compare generally available electricity and gas plans from all retailers in their area. Find out how to save your business some money on energy or if you’re on the cheapest energy plan for your needs.