The Victorian Premier and his ministers, have issued a press release that forecasts relief for some Victorians from the crippling restrictions. The public are getting restless after weeks of confinement and fear of prosecution for just going about their normal day to day activities. Underlying the resentment ( anger too ! ) is the fact that dumb decisions led to the second wave of Covid 19 illness.
Victorians are still under the control of a Premier who many regard as incompetent and others regard as a menace. A kind of metaphorical "fox in charge of the hen house situation".
The Premier issued the following in the hope of mitigating the damage to Victoria, or more likely, to his reputation.
Thanks to the enormous efforts of Victorians in following the rules and driving down case numbers, we will take the first of our cautious and careful steps towards a COVID Normal.
The numbers are falling but we need to keep it that way – ensuring we can continue to open up safely and sustainably – based on the data, the science and expert public health advice.
From 11.59pm Melbourne moves from Stage Four to the First Step of the roadmap for reopening, with modest changes including more social interaction and more time outside.
Social bubbles begin, allowing those living alone or single parents to have one other person in their home. Exercise is extended to two hours split over a maximum of two sessions, and you will be able to use that time outside for social interaction with one other person or the members of your household.
Playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment reopen, libraries will be able to open for contactless click and collect and the curfew will begin at 9pm as Melbourne moves into warmer months.
Tonight, regional Victoria moves from Stage Three restrictions to the Second Step of the roadmap, with up to five people able to gather together in outdoor public places from a maximum of two households.
Outdoor pools and playgrounds in regional Victoria will also open. And religious services can be conducted outside with a maximum of five people, plus a faith leader.
Given the incredible effort of regional Victorians, the Government will continue to closely monitor the 14-day rolling average, which currently sits at 4.1 for regional communities. If this effort continues, regional Victorians could move to the Third Step in a matter of days.
Also from today, Victoria’s State of Emergency and State of Disaster declarations have been renewed for another four weeks, ending at 11.59pm on 11 October 2020.
While the vast majority of Victorians are doing the right thing and following the directions, these measures give the Chief Health Officer and Victoria Police the powers they need to continue to respond rapidly to the pandemic – in line with the latest data and public health advice.
This includes ensuring Victoria Police has the ability to enforce the directions that are keeping us safe and slowing the spread of the virus. Without these efforts, we risk losing all of Victorians’ hard-won gains.
Premier Daniel Andrews said today,
“I’m so proud of Victorians for the way we are all working together to beat this virus – it means we can take our first safe and steady steps towards a COVID Normal tonight.”
“What we’ve seen in regional Victoria should give hope to all Victorians. If we all play our part, we can drive numbers down and get through this together.”
Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said,
“Victorians are doing an incredible job – following the rules, getting tested and staying at home when we’re sick – getting us that much closer to COVID Normal.”
“The State of Emergency ensures we have all the tools we need to fight this virus – keeping all of us safe.”
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville commented,
“Extending a State of Disaster is never a decision we make lightly – and it won’t be in place a moment longer than it needs to be.”
“We are at a critical point right now. And we have to do everything we can to hold onto the gains we’ve made, which means giving Victoria Police everything they need to enforce the Chief Health Officer’s directions as we keep driving down cases.”
SUPPORTING VICTORIAN BUSINESSES ON OUR ROAD TO COVID NORMAL
A massive new support package will see $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support delivered to Victorian businesses as we work together to drive coronavirus cases down and progress along our roadmap to COVID Normal.
Premier Daniel Andrews today announced the multi-billion package to help businesses survive and keep Victorians in jobs – taking the Government's total business support to over $6 billion.
Over $1.1 billion in cash grants will support small and medium sized businesses that are most affected by coronavirus restrictions including $822 million as part of the third round of the Business Support Fund. Around 75,000 eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size. More than 108,000 businesses have already shared in $1.47 billion from the first two rounds of Business Support Fund grants.
Victoria’s hospitality businesses are the bedrock of our economy, but right now, many are going through a tough time. To support our bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels and reception centres, the Government will establish a $251 million dedicated Licenced Venue Fund, with grants of between $10,000 and $30,000 for licenced venues of all shapes and sizes. The Government is also providing further relief by waiving liquor license fees for 2021.
Trips to Victoria’s ski fields haven’t been possible for thousands of families this year, so the Government will give businesses in our alpine resorts the support they need with grants of up to $20,000 to help cover their resort fees, saving them a combined $4.3 million.
The Government will also partner with local business groups and chambers of commerce, with grants of up to $20,000 so they can help their members adapt and find their feet in a COVID Normal world.
To date, almost 20,000 Victorian businesses have received payroll tax refunds in the last financial year worth more than $540 million – and thousands more received a full waiver. To provide a much needed $1.7 billion cashflow boost for businesses, the Government will now defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year.
Building on that support, the Government will also provide a further $137 million in waivers and deferrals of charges including liquor licence fees, the congestion levy and increases to the landfill levy. The 50 per cent stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property across all of regional Victoria will be brought forward to 1 January 2021 and the Vacant Residential Land Tax will be waived for propertoes that are vacant in 2020.
Even after we reach COVID Normal, many businesses will be required to change the way they do things, so we can keep cases low and protect our hard-won gains. That’s why the Government will invest $44 million to equip businesses with the support they need to thrive under a COVID Normal. It includes $20 million for small businesses to access off-the-shelf digital programs such as Shopify or Squareonline, training and workshops designed to help businesses adapt to online operations.
Victoria is home to some of the best fresh food, wine, galleries and homewares in the world – but the pandemic has hit many small producers hard. The Government has already rolled out Click for Vic, a new website and campaign aimed at encouraging Victorians to support these hard-working local businesses. Already the website has generated 211,000 leads to businesses featured – now we’ll boost that effort with $8.5 million for more marketing and advertising, and expanding the digital platform and its partnerships with third-party e-commerce providers to sell these strengths far and wide.
Exports are vital to Victoria’s economy – contributing 12 per cent to Victoria’s GSP and 330,000 Victorian jobs. That’s why we’re launching a $15.7 million export recovery package to address logistics and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, and establish new export channels.
Businesses will be connected to international markets through virtual trade missions as well as assistance to adapt their export strategies to respond to the rapidly changing global market.
Additional details about support for businesses will be made available at www.business.vic.gov.au.