The region’s peak business organisation, Business Hunter says business owners across the Hunter will feel some relief with news many can begin to plan now for reopening of business in just over a month.
The NSW Government officially released its re-opening roadmap this morning, which sets the path for businesses in the hospitality, retail and fitness industries to reopen from the Monday following the state reaching the seventy percent ‘double dose’ milestone, currently expected to be in mid-October.
The initiatives include:
- Hospitality venues can reopen with one person per 4 square metres indoors and per 2 square metres outdoors
- Retail stores can reopen with one person per 4 square metres
- Personal grooming services can operate with one person per 4 square metres, capped at 5 clients per premises
- Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can reopen with one person per 4 square metres – with classes limited to a maximum of 20 people.
- Domestic travel, including travel to regional NSW can return
- Weddings and funerals can resume with up to 50 people in attendance.
- Employers must allow staff to continue to work from home if they can
- Masks will remain mandatory for all public indoor venues
“What this roadmap does give the Hunter business community is essentially a ‘worst-case’ scenario for planning and preparations for reopening,” Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes said today.
“It’s not quite what we were hoping for, where yesterday we heard the potential for reprieve in some Upper Hunter areas. But we now know that the longest our region should have to wait is mid-October, so businesses can start ordering, staffing and reconnecting with their loyal customers and plan for open or expanded services from that date.
“The Deputy Premier has said that local government areas could come out of lockdown ahead of this date, like some of the State’s regions did today, and that local government area transmissions would be reviewed weekly to inform those decisions,” Mr Hawes said.
“But we know from today’s press conference with the Deputy Premier that the Hunter needs fourteen days with no new cases of community transmission to achieve this.
“We want to put fresh emphasis on the clear message that it’s up to the community more than ever to make a concerted effort to stay at home, get the vaccine that’s available to your age group, and test at the first sign of illness to enable our business economy to open more widely as soon as possible.
Business Hunter also welcomed the further announcements and indicators of future initiatives by the NSW Government to support businesses and workers across the state.
These announcements include:
- Test and isolate payments have been extended to all NSW – previously was just areas of concern
- The NSW Government will pick up the tab for the COVID-19 disaster payment for areas that come out of lockdown – the Commonwealth has only committed to covering lockdown areas
- These measures are likely to be superseded by the NSW Government’s proposed new Economic Recovery Package to be announced in early October.
“We’re pleased some extra measures are being prioritised by government – particularly the Test and Isolate payment,” Mr Hawes said.
“Any worker or business who has had wages affected by the NSW Health orders to stay at home and isolate can now jump on the Service NSW website and access this payment.
“We’re really pleased that government listened to our requests and the media’s enquiries to make this payment comprehensive across the state.
“It will be helpful in lowering the risk of unwell staff feeling pressure to go to work while results come in rather than stay at home and lose wages,” Mr Hawes said.
“As for the retention of lockdowns across the region, it is disappointing, yet support remains for impacted business and we can start to set some reopening targets for October.
“What we are now trying to understand for the open-up is, ‘What will be required of business owners in terms of compliance with the QR Codes on check-in and the integration of vaccination certificates as permission to enter premises?’
“This is going to be pretty complex and has the potential to put a lot of ownership on businesses to enforce vaccination compliance, so we’re making enquiries around how this is going work and what the government is asking of businesses,” Mr Hawes said.