By Andy Young, The Shout

As governments, regulators and associations look to stimulate the economy in the face of COVID-19, there is some good news, with temporary measures to help small businesses.

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has said that all small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to apply for a six-month moratorium on all loan repayments.

Anna Bligh, the ABA’s chief executive, said the move would apply to more than $100billion in small business loans, meaning up to $8bn could go to these companies.

“Small businesses are the most vulnerable part of the economy and present the most pressing need for assistance in the economy today,” Bligh said.

“This is a multi-billion dollar lifeline for small businesses when they need it most, to help keep the doors open and keep people in jobs.

“Banks are putting in place a fast track approval process to ensure customers receive support as soon as possible.

“While this is first and foremost a health crisis, this pandemic has begun to have serious impacts across the economy, with small businesses beginning to feel the devastating effects.

“Over the last few days banks have worked closely with the Treasurer and the Government to identify measures to support the economy through this crisis.

“Small businesses can rest assured that if they need help, they will get it. Banks are already reaching out to their customers to offer assistance and packages will start rolling out in full on Monday,” she said.

More good news came for on-premise venues in Victoria, with the regulator (VCGLR) agreeing with a proposal from On-Tap Liquor, to grant temporary licences allowing takeaway sales and home delivery of alcohol.

On-Tap Liquor said it had confirmed the following with the VCGLR:

  • As a general rule, VCGLR policy dictates that no more than 6 temporary licenses can be obtained for a single venue within a calendar year. The temporary licence arrangements we have been discussing, and which the VCGLR will be implementing under these circumstances WILL NOT be counted towards this limit.
  • The VCGLR have advised us that they will look to prioritise these applications wherever possible. We do, however, reiterate and support the indication that a specific turnaround time cannot be guaranteed in the circumstances. As you can no doubt appreciate, the VCGLR are as busy as the rest of us dealing with the issues at hand.
  • Costs attached to the application will be as per standard practice.
  • At the suggestion of On Tap Liquor Consulting, the VCGLR have agreed to link the temporary licensing arrangements to the current Victorian ‘State of Emergency’. Essentially this means that any temporary licence issued by the VCGLR under this initiative will be valid for as long as the formal state of emergency is in place, meaning future re-application will not be required. We feel that this is significantly important to provide the required support to the hospitality industry.
  • The limitations attached to the proposed supply of liquor will likely be 1 (one) bottle of wine or a six pack of beer/cider for Restaurant and Cafe licence holders and 2 (two) for holders of on-premises licenses.

Victorian venue operators should contact the VCGLR to begin the application process.

TheShout has contacted other regulators around the country advocating this response from the VCGLR and asking if they will be doing the same. You can contact your local MP and regulator with this news from Victoria and urge them to support small businesses by doing the same.

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