Lord mayor calls on the state government to prop up businesses

Lord mayor calls on the state government to prop up businesses

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Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp says city businesses will be particularly hard hit by the looming lockdown in the absence of JobKeeper payments, and has called on the state government to provide direct financial support to businesses.

Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp receiving her COVID-19 inoculation earlier this month.Credit:Instagram

The state government will reimpose lockdown restrictions starting from midnight Thursday for seven days, says acting Premier James Merlino.

Shops including supermarkets, food stores, bottle shops, banks, petrol stations and pharmacies will remain open, and cafes and restaurants will be able to offer take-away only.

Cr Capp said while Melburnians must rely on the advice of health authorities, any lockdown should be “as short as possible”.

“Businesses have gone through the toughest trading conditions in living memory and many are just starting to recover,” she said.

“JobKeeper has ended so a lockdown now will have potentially even greater impacts on our city businesses.

“I encourage the Victorian government to take into account the plight of our business community in their decision making and provide support commensurate with the length of any lockdown.”

When the federal government’s $90 billion job subsidy program ceased at the end of March, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg argued that there were strong signs of jobs coming back and recovery in some sectors – notably retail and wholesale trade, financial services and manufacturing.

But the effect of renewed restrictions on the CBD was almost immediate this week.

The number of pedestrians around Southern Cross Station during the 8am to 9am morning peak on Wednesday, the first working day renewed rules requiring masks to be worn indoors, was down by 61 per cent, compared with the past month’s average.

Across the city, according to the City of Melbourne’s pedestrian sensors, the number of people had fallen to half of pre-pandemic levels.

Business groups said the requirement to wear masks indoors, including in workplaces, would make city trade downturns “inevitable”.

A lockdown, they said, would cripple many.

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