The Victorian Government has announced a support package worth over $250 million for businesses affected by this week’s state lockdown, including $20 million specifically for the events industry.
Acting Premier James Merlino announced the $250.7 million Circuit Breaker Business Support Package which will target 90,000 businesses that have been impacted.
While no detail has been given on what form the events support package will take, the scheme has earmarked grants of $2,500 for eligible small to medium-sized businesses and sole traders, including restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation venues and non-essential retailers. Hospitality venues will also be eligible for a $3,500 grant per premises.
“This supports businesses who have been hardest hit by the circuit-breaker lockdown,” Merlino said.
“This is a bigger and broader package than the one that we delivered through the lockdown, the circuit-breaker lockdown, back in February.”
Lobby group Save Victorian Events welcomed the assistance describing it as a “modest, but long needed, step in the right direction”.
“Until today, there really hasn’t been any targeted financial support to people and businesses in Victoria’s event industry, despite it being one of the very hardest hit industries,” said Save Victorian Events spokesman Simon Thewlis.
Thewlis said further support was needed particularly in the form of a Covid-19 insurance scheme.
“We also ask the government to set up an Event Industry Recovery Taskforce to immediately start work on practical measures to support the Event Industry, to minimise the loss of events, and to start on recovery,” he said.
Shadow arts minister Tony Burke has also supported calls for a national Covid-19 insurance scheme for the arts, entertainment, and events industry.
“A slew of major events, festivals and gigs – including the inaugural RISING Festival and the One Fine Day Wedding Fair – have been cancelled over the next seven days as Victoria goes back into lockdown,” Burke said.
“There are good public health reasons for those cancellations. But the failure of the Morrison government to establish an insurance program – similar to the Temporary Interruption Fund which applies to the film industry – has put these businesses in a diabolical position.”
Burke said that without any form of commercial insurance available for Covid-19 for events organisers may not survive.
“We want people to have the confidence to organise and invest in major events in Australia,” he said.
“But how can they if they are unable to insure against lockdowns and Covid-related cancellations? The Morrison government’s refusal to establish a national Covid-19 insurance scheme means that a number of businesses that are completely viable outside the pandemic now face an uncertain future.”
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