Business ‘normality’ welcomed

Altona Village Traders Association president Ilch Mickovski

Tara Murray

A federal government plan to end COVID-19 support payments for workers once 80 per cent of people are fully vaccinated will “reinvigorate“ local businesses, according to the Altona Traders Association.

The federal government has announced that taxpayer-funded COVID-19 disaster payments would end when states hit the 80 per cent double dose vaccine target.

The Commonwealth COVID-19 disaster payment provides $750 a week to people who have lost at least 20 hours of work, and $450 a week to those who have lost between eight and 20 hours.

People on welfare payments, such as JobSeeker, who had lost over eight hours of work received $200 per week.

Many businesses have voiced their concerns about the payment ending but the traders association’s Ilch Mickovski said it was a good thing.

“It’s a positive thing for business,” he said.

“It means businesses are able to reopen their doors,“ he said.

“When they were locked up they couldn’t look for staff.

“It’s a positive step for business and those people who are getting the payment and haven’t been able to work.

“As much as the government is supporting business, they don’t want the support, they want the doors open instead. They want normality and they’re working so hard to get that.“

Mr Mickovski said that a number of local businesses were seeking new staff to help them cater for the expected rise in patronage once they reopen.

He said a local supermarket, hospitality venues and hairdressers are among the businesses looking for staff.

“People who were made redundant… Many were asking why they should go back to work when the payments were so good.

“I think it’s a good thing and will reinvigorate everything and start to get back to normality.

“People aren’t going to be able to justify staying at home. It’s a positive move by the government to encourage people to get back out there and look for work.“

Mr Mickovski said the association had been working with Hobsons Bay council to find ways to help local businesses get back to doing what they do best.

He said outdoor trading areas remained a key focus and something that should remain permanently.

“If the hospitality industry wants more space, they need to have more tables and chairs,” he said.

“Outdoor dining is a key component. One of the local hairdressers even had an outside waiting area for a parklet.”

“We have to look at keeping the outdoor dining element permanently.”