Retail struggle in January 2020

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, it is becoming clear that this issue is going to have a profound affect, not only now but in the period ahead. On Sunday night the Prime Minister, following a meeting of the National Cabinet, implemented a Stage 1 shutdown of non-essential activity to take effect from midday March 23.

You are all no doubt aware of the lockdown, indeed some of you would be directly affected, but the definitive list of businesses impacted includes:

  • Pubs, clubs, nightclubs;
  • Casinos;
  • Licensed venues in hotels* (not including accommodation);
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues;
  • Places of worship;
  • Cinemas and entertainment venues; and
  • Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide home delivery or takeaway services.

At this stage, businesses who do not feature in the list above are permitted to continue trading. Though this may be varied on a state-by-state basis over coming hours and days. Please keep informed by visiting our the NRA Coronavirus website, subscribing to our newsletter or visiting the relevant social media sites.

These unprecedented measures have also sparked another round of stimulus packages to assist business through this highly uncertain time. All up, a further $66 billion will be spent by the Federal Government on the following measures:

Small business cash payment

  • Small businesses to receive a cash payment of up to $100,000 for the period of March 2020 to September 2020.
  • The payment will be worth 100% of the tax those SMEs, with a turnover less than $50 million, are withholding from their employees’ salary and wages.
  • The payment will be tax free and also available to eligible charities and not-for-profit entities.
  • Eligible businesses that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages – they report it each month or quarter – will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $100,000.

Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

  • Announcement of Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to support SMEs with turnover of less than $50 million.
  • The Commonwealth will guarantee 50%, through participating banks, of an eligible loan to small and medium enterprise customers that have been impacted by the coronavirus.
  • The Scheme will have the capacity to support lending of $40 billion to small and medium businesses. Loans will be used for working capital purposes and be unsecured and it will be for loans granted within 6 months starting 1 April 2020.
  • The Scheme will apply to new or existing customers of banks and non-bank lenders. Lenders will not be charged a fee for accessing the Scheme. It will be repayment free for 6 months.
  • The maximum loan will be $250,000 for a term up to 3 years.
  • It will not apply to re-financing of existing customers. Those already have existing loans that will benefit from the ABA announcement.
  • Through this measure, the Government is offering to guarantee $20 billion.

Sole traders

  • The Government is also allowing sole traders who have seen their hours of work or income fall 20% or more as a result of COVID-19 to access their superannuation capped at $10,000 this financial year and a further $10,000 next financial year. The withdrawals will be tax free.

We have heard you concerns of the coming weeks in relation to the costs of leasing and your dealings with Landlords across the country. We have also heard your growing concerns in relation to your workforce. Rest assured we are working with every level of Government on a daily basis and ask that you keep sending as much information through. We want to make sure that all levels of Government are under no illusion as to what Coronavirus means for our industry and its employees.

We continue to provide workplace relations advice via our hotline and are publishing regular updates here with respect to employee entitlements and employment matters.

We are acutely aware as to how tough it is out there and we remind you to make sure you are looking after each other and yourselves where possible. In times like these, maintaining your mental health is incredibly important. If there is anything we can do, if you need to speak to someone, please do not hesitate to contact us – we are always here for you and your business rain, hail or shine.  We are in this together.