Victorian government announces $250million for lockdown-affected businesses and workers

Small and medium-sized businesses and sole traders will be eligible for the grants, including music venues and event suppliers

The Victorian government has announced a new $250.7million relief package for small and medium-sized businesses and sole traders affected by the current statewide lockdown.

It was announced by Acting Premier James Merlino at a press conference this morning (May 30), who said the new package is “bigger and broader” than the government’s $143million fund announced for February’s circuit breaker lockdown.

Victoria’s current lockdown, implemented from 11.59pm Thursday (May 27), will last at least a week. Residents can only leave the home for exercise, shopping for essential services, giving and receiving care, authorised work or study, or to get vaccinated. This is the first lockdown Victoria has experienced since the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy program in March.

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Of the $250.7million, a majority will be directed to a second round of the Business Costs Assistance Program. The program will offer a $2,500 grant to businesses that cannot operate during the lockdown or work remotely, such as cafes, event suppliers and galleries.

Grants of $3,500 will be available through the $40.7million Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund, specifically tailored to businesses holding an eligible liquor license and food certificate.

There will also be $20million available for “operators in the events industry” who have suffered losses due to the lockdown. More information on this funding will be made available soon.

Applications for the Business Costs Assistance Program and Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will open on June 2 through Business Victoria.

Merlino also took the opportunity at the press conference to criticise the federal government for the lack of financial support offered to affected workers during the lockdown.

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“We asked multiple times, we asked multiple times [for] the federal government to support workers during this period, and the unrelenting answer has been no,” he said.

“Victorian workers deserve more from the federal government, and I am beyond disappointed that the answer from the Prime Minister and from the Treasurer has been not to talk in further detail about the package.”

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