Vic departments and Melbourne council to hold virtual COVID-19 Business Support Summit

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday March 18, 2020

Adobe

The City of Melbourne has announced a $10 million stimulus package to keep residents in jobs and support local businesses affected by the coronavirus.

The Victorian government has not yet released its own stimulus.

As part of the package, the state and federal governments, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will partner with the council to host a virtual COVID-19 Business Support Summit at Melbourne Town Hall.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood on Wednesday said the council would also give businesses up to $1m for training and support, and up to $500,000 in grants so they can develop e-commerce and online services.

“We will also implement a business concierge service that will provide one on one advice and support to Melbourne businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19,” he added.

“This is the first package of support and will be doing more over the coming weeks to assist our local business community.”

For a period of three months, the council will halve rent for eligible tenants in council-owned buildings, and suspend fees for Food Act registrations and street trading permits.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said $700,000 would be allocated to temporarily waive fees for street trading and outdoor dining areas, to help counter the impacts of COVID-19 precautions, such as social distancing.

“The economic impacts from this virus will be significant and we’re encouraging everybody to support local businesses wherever they can,” she said.

She noted the council would partner with Spotless Services to provide training for roughly 200 affected casual staff, who would then be employed to improve “city cleanliness and presentation”.

Under the package, the City of Melbourne would also develop a Rates Hardship Policy for consideration by the end of March.

The council would also work with management from one of Melbourne’s major landmarks — the Queen Victoria Market — to provide appropriate support to traders, according to Capp.

“Queen Victoria Market is the lifeblood of our city and we’re doing everything we can support traders affected by the downturn,” she said.

“We will request the board of the Queen Victoria Market to consider rent relief for affected tenants and stallholders.

“We’re doing everything we can to help businesses stay open and keep Melburnians in jobs.”

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