Canberra business representatives call for COVID support | Canberra time

coronavirus, covid, covid-19, covid businesses, canberra economy, canberra businesses

With the number of workers made redundant due to rising COVID-19 cases and financial support out of reach, businesses in Canberra have called for action to help them through the surge in cases of the Omicron strain. Business collectives representing the southern interior, Braddon and Fyshwick, said their members were calling for more support and would back measures to help those affected by COVID-19 exposures return to work more quickly. In New South Wales, critical workers, including supermarket staff, who are close contacts are eligible to leave isolation to work if they show no symptoms of COVID-19. Braddon’s United Retailers and Traders (BURT) spokesman Kel Watt said trade had been strong heading into Christmas, but the reintroduction of indoor mask mandates on December 21 had given people “a feeling of fear”. “It went from a very, very strong trading period to next to nothing,” Mr. Watt said. “And there are hospitality outlets choosing not to reopen at this time or only working on a lunch or dinner instead of trading all day. Or having reduced hours at another title.” Mr Watt said companies did not want people coming to work sick, but it would make sense that people who had received three doses of a vaccine and returned a negative test could return to work. Inner South Canberra Business Council chairman John-Paul Romano said businesses in his area were experiencing hundreds of cancellations. “Anything that can free up staff is appreciated,” he said. “Not only is the laying off of staff hurting businesses, but the fact that it is difficult to find staff at this time, especially in these frontline sectors such as hospitality. There needs to be additional support for the hospitality and tourism industries. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said last week that governments would not be able to provide businesses with financial support whenever incomes fall due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. READ MORE: ‘The Chief Minister should realize that without small businesses the ACT economy is going to come to a halt,’ Mr Romano said. ‘For every small business there are dozens and dozens of people, whom this company supports.” Not just the owners: all casual staff, university students, suppliers, families of suppliers [and more]. “Anything that helps us get back to work and get to the capacity we need to be faster is going to help us,” said Fyshwick Business Association president Rob Evans. “I think around 30% of all staff at the moment are away… so it’s very, very difficult for anyone to work at full capacity.” Mr Evans said businesses in Fyshwick were also eager to discuss with the ACT government how to attract more workers to the area in the long term, with shortages being hit hard due to pre-existing issues. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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