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COVID-19 Business Support

COVID-19 Business Support

In this section...

Information to help businesses in the Wimmera Southern Mallee Region navigate the assistance and support announced by governments and other industry sectors can be found here. 

Businesses, sole traders, and staff will be impacted by the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. Council's are dedicated to working closely with businesses to cushion the blow in these difficult times and assist businesses to navigate the options available to them. 

Regional business support teams will be working closely with businesses, regional emergency management and council’s environmental health and community safety teams to ensure everyone in the community is best placed to help protect others and comply with the latest rules and regulations. 

If your businesses is feeling the effects of Coronavirus and you are looking for support, please contact your local council's business support team listed under support from Council.


  • Wimmera Development Association
  • https://www.wda.org.au/contact/staff
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Council's support teams are working hard to offer any and all assistance that we are able during this difficult time

Communication is key, so please keep us informed of what's happening in your sector and how we might help.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you are isolating yourself for any reason and are lacking the support you need, you can access local assistance by dialling the
'Call for Help Hotline' 1800 195 114

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Understanding Business Restrictions

Understanding business restrictions

The national cabinet of state, territory, and federal leaders have determined the following restrictions on business must be imposed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia. 

From midnight 30 March 2020, the following changes will come into effect.

National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium on evictions for the next six months for residential and commercial tenants who are experiencing financial distress due to the impact of coronavirus.

From midnight 5 August 2020, the following changes will come into effect.

Businesses/services to close:

  • Food courts in shopping centres must close (Food vendors will still be able to provide takeaway and retail stores in shopping centres can remain open)
  • Auction houses and places where people gather to buy and sell must close
  • Real Estate auctions, open houses, and inspections must cease
  • Play centres both indoor and outside must close
  • Personal Services such as beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, tattoos, massage and services of that nature must close (health-related therapies such as physiotherapy can remain open)
  • Hairdressers and barbershops can remain open.
  • Cinemas, night clubs, casinos, adult entertainment, concerts, stadiums, arcades and amusement parks must close
  • Gyms, libraries, rec centres, barre, saunas, wellness centres, group fitness classes must close
  • Boot camps and personal training is to be limited to a maximum of 10 people and social distancing measures must be enforced
  • Social sport in large groups, community sporting groups and leagues must cease. 
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools must close. 
  • Galleries, museums, significant and historical points of interest, community and youth centres, entertainment centres, Local Government centres/halls must close.
  • Weddings can continue where it is just the couple, the celebrant, and witnesses with no more than 5 people.
  • Funerals can go ahead with no more than 10 people. States and territories can also provide exemptions to the 10-person limit for funerals in cases of hardship.
  • Caravan parks and camping grounds are now closed to visitors. 
    The only people permitted to remain will be:
    - People who already have the caravan park registered as their primary place of residence; and
    - People staying in caravan parks as interim accommodation where their primary residence is not available.

The following directions are from the Deputy Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared state of disaster.

Businesses/services to adhere to Stage 3 restrictions for a period of 6 weeks from the 5 August 2020:

  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and nightclubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to take away and/or home delivery. Cafes, restaurants, and take away food outlets are able to provide seating outside their venues if it complies with the four-square-metre social distancing rules. People can still purchase their takeaway meals/items etc and consume them at an outdoor table and chairs, but they still need to ensure that the social distancing requirements are complied with
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

Click here for the complete directive from the Deputy Chief Health Officer

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Support from the State Government

The Victorian Government has announced a $1.7 billion Economic Survival and Jobs Package, this includes the following initiatives:

Payroll tax refunds

The Victorian Government will provide full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million – giving $550 million back to businesses who need it.
Payments will start flowing from 23 March and will save eligible businesses up to $113,975 a year. This assistance is a refund, not a loan.
The same businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021 in an effort to free up cash flow.

Business Support Fund

The Victorian Government will provide $500 million to establish a Business Support Fund. The fund will support the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail.
The Government will work with the Victorian Chamber, Australian Hotels Association and Ai Group to administer the fund, which will help these businesses – which may not be eligible for payroll tax refunds due to their size – survive and keep people in work.

Liquor licensing fees waiver

The Victorian Government will waive liquor licensing fees for affected venues and small businesses in the hospitality sector for 2020.

Working for Victoria Fund

The Victorian Government will establish a $500 million Working for Victoria Fund in consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council. 
The fund will help workers who have lost their jobs find new opportunities, including work cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food and support packages.
The government will also facilitate job matching to help Victorians find short-term or casual roles.

Rent relief and land tax deferral

Commercial tenants in government buildings can apply for rent relief – a move private landlords are also being encouraged to undertake – and 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses.

Business Victoria - COVID-19 Hotline

Businesses across the state dealing with the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak can access the latest information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.
Further information can also be found here

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Support from the Banking Sector

The Australian Banking Association has announced that member banks of the association will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months.

Businesses affected by the financial impacts of COVID-19 can request a six-month payment deferral on loan repayments from their bank for term loans, with interest capitalised. Unpaid interest throughout this period will be added to the outstanding loan balance.

This Assistance Package will apply to more than $100 billion of existing small business loans nationwide.
The contact details of Australian Bank financial hardship teams can be found here

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Support from the Federal Government

Cash flow assistance for small and medium sized businesses

The Australian Government will deliver an estimated $31.9 billion to support eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) to incentivise the retention of their workforce.
Small and medium business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible with an amount equal to 100% of their salary and wages withheld.
The payments will be linked to business to staff wage tax withholding, and are tax free, with no new forms and payments will flow automatically through the ATO.
The first payment will be available from 28 April 2020 and an additional payment from 28 July 2020.
The maximum amount available to businesses through the initiative is $100,000.
Further information can be found here

Instant asset write-off increase and accelerated depreciation 

The Australian Government will provide $700 million to increase the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
This applies for new or second‑hand assets first used or installed ready for use in this timeframe.
The threshold applies on a per asset basis, so eligible businesses can immediately write‑off multiple assets.
Further information can be found at: https://www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/instant-asset-write-off
A further $3.2 billion will support a time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. 
Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct an additional 50 per cent of the asset cost in the year of purchase.
Further information can be found here
These measures commenced on 12 March 2020.

Apprentice wage subsidy

The Australian Government will provide $1.3 billion to support small businesses to support the jobs of around 120,000 apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 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 that employs that apprentice.
Further information can be found here

Coronavirus Regional and Community Fund

The Australian Government will provide $1 billion to regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education.
Funding will be provided through existing or newly established Government programs, with eligibility and timing still being finalised.
Further information can be found here

Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

The Australian Government will guarantee up to 50% of new loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) issued by eligible lenders.
Up to $20 billion will be guaranteed by the government to enhance lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit that will assist SMEs gain access to working capital to help them get through the impact of the coronavirus.
Further information can be found here

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus.
These measures include, temporarily increasing 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. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.  
Further information can be found here

Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit

The Australian Government has established a Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit within the Treasury Department. 
The role of the Unit will be to engage with peak business groups on systemic issues relating to Coronavirus to ensure these are being addressed by Government. It will take over business engagement on behalf of all departments and agencies of the Australian Government to ensure the response is coordinated centrally.
Dr Gordon de Brouwer will head the Unit. He is a former departmental secretary and was one of the key public servants that developed the Australian Government’s stimulus package in response to the Global Financial Crisis.  
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Small Business Exemption from Responsible Lending Obligations

The Australian Government will provide an exemption from responsible lending obligations for a period of six months in relation to the credit they extend to their existing small business customers, provided there is an existing borrowing relationship and some proportion of that credit is used for business purposes.
The exemption will apply to new credit, credit limit increases and credit variations and restructures.
Increased income support for recipients of the Farm Household Allowance
The Australian Government is providing a Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories including the Farm Household Allowance. These changes will apply for the next six months and will not be income tested.
Further information can be found here

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