Central Victorian businesses hard-hit by the state's fifth COVID-19-related lockdown will see some financial relief after the state government announced a $400 million business support fund.
Treasurer Tim Pallas on Wednesday announced the federal-state support package, which will aim to assist licensed venues and small businesses, and provide rent relief for commercial tenants and landlords.
Be.Bendigo chief executive Dennis Bice welcomed any financial support from the state and federal governments.
He said his first reaction to hearing the news was excitement.
"It is fantastic to see state and federal governments working together to support the business community," he said.
"I think that has been something that has been missing at times and for the two of them to come together and put together this package to support our community is really pleasing."
Mr Bice said rental relief support was a real bonus of the package.
The reintroduced Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme will aim to ease pressure by providing rent relief for eligible tenants, while separate support will be provided to landlords who do the right thing by their tenants.
The scheme will be available to businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million that have suffered a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent due to coronavirus.
"It just takes away another worrying concern for businesses from the Be.Bendigo perspective, we are really pleased with the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme," he said.
"We do have some questions on how it will work but putting that aside, we do think this is a real positive and we are pleased with that particular announcement."
The package also features a $156 million business continuity fund that will give $5000 grants to about 30,000 businesses hit by capacity limits under public health restrictions.
Twenty-four sectors are eligible including gyms, cafes, restaurants, catering services and hairdressers.
You could always argue that this isn't enough but at least for now, we are starting to get support packages in play that will give business the benefit of some certaintyBe.Bendigo chief executive Dennis Bice
More cash will also be added to the state government's support for licensed hospitality and alpine venues, with $70 million for the licensed hospitality venue fund 2021 and $9.8 million for alpine business support.
Mr Bice said any support for businesses at the moment was critical.
"In particular, businesses that have been hardest hit in industries like hospitality and retail - it will be great to see them get something out of this program," he said.
"You could always argue that this isn't enough but at least now we are starting to get support packages in play that will give business the benefit of some certainty.
"It doesn't resolve all of the issues from lockdowns but it does give them another thing to take off the plate in terms of what the next step will be with their business."
Mr Bice said the package would be well received through the business community.
"I have no doubt that many businesses will see this as positive," he said.
"Any support funding that goes into play to support businesses that have been hardest hit is really important."
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