We are keeping you in the loop with COVID-19 news, including restriction and stimulus updates.
Details are subject to change due to fluctuating Coronavirus case numbers across Australia. So stay tuned for future updates, restrictions, and assistance packages available.
- Victorian Restriction Updates
- Workplace COVID-Safe Plans (Victoria)
- Australian Government Stimulus
- Victorian Worker Support Scheme
- Victorian COVIDSafe Deep Clean Rebate
- SME Guarantee Scheme
- Tax Relief for Landlords
- Tourism & Aviation Support Program
- Superannuation Updates
- Business Helpline – 13 28 46
- Financial Hardship Helplines
- Mental Health Resources
- The Jobs Hub
- Australia’s Vaccine Rollout
Victoria’s COVID Restrictions
Restrictions are subject to change based on coronavirus case numbers and other factors. So make sure you get updates from trusted sources such as the Victorian Government website!
The Victorian Government DH Twitter page is also updated regularly.
Restriction Update – Friday 26 March 2021
From 6pm on Friday 26 March, Victoria will further relax its COVIDSafe settings, including:
- Masks: no longer be required in retail settings, Victorians will still need to carry one with them at all times and wear it on public transport, in ride-share vehicles and taxis and in aged care facilities and hospitals.
- Gatherings in the home: up to 100 people per day.
- Outdoor gatherings in public places (e.g. the beach, the park): limit increased to 200 people.
- Workplaces/Office Limits: 100% capacity – provided density limits can be met. Workplaces are still required to ensure people can work with a density limit of 1 person per 2 square metres.
- Venue density limits: Casinos, karaoke venues and nightclubs will move to 1 person per 2 square metres. This is in line with cafes, pubs and restaurants.
- Non-seated venues: 75% capacity at indoor non-seated entertainment venues, the limit of 1000 people per space remains. Dance floors will move to the same density limit of the venue and the 50 patron cap will also be removed.
- Gyms and Exercise Classes: no longer limits on class sizes for outdoor and indoor physical recreation or fitness classes. Unstaffed gyms will be move to a density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres.
The Acting Premier’s Press Release is available here.
Workplace COVID-Safe Plans
From 11:59pm on 13 September 2020, it is mandatory for every Victorian business to have a COVIDSafe Plan.
Random spot checks are underway in metropolitan Melbourne to ensure compliance.
Your COVID-Safe Plan must include:
- Your actions to help prevent the introduction of COVID-19 in your workplace
- The level of face mask or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your workforce
- How you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace
- Demonstrate how you will meet all the requirements set out by the Victorian Government.
If you’re a public-facing business, part of your COVID-Safe Plan should involve how you will be tracking and screening people coming in and out of your business.
There are plenty of apps and new software popping up to help businesses with this process. Do your research and find out what will work best for your business and effectively keep everyone safe.
Some QR Visitor Scanning Options include:
Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees. Click here to see High-Risk COVID Safe Plan details.
Businesses must review and update their COVIDSafe Plans routinely, especially when restrictions or public health advice changes. For example, scarves, bandannas and face shields alone are no longer an acceptable face covering in Victoria, so any face covering requirements in your workplace (and therefore in your Covid-Safe Plan) must reflect that.
Organisations with multiple worksites must complete a COVIDSafe Plan for each worksite.
Click here for more information.
Australian Government Stimulus
The Government has announced numerous investment packages to support the economy as we brace for the impact of the coronavirus.
- Business investment
- Increase and extension of the instant asset write-off
- Accelerated depreciation deductions
- Cash flow assistance for small and medium sized business
- Wage subsidy of up to 50% of an apprentice or trainee wage
- Targeted support for severely affected sectors, regions and communities
- Access to working capital – Introduction of a Coronavirus SME guarantee scheme protecting financial institutions by guaranteeing 50% of new loans to SMEs.
- Early release of superannuation – individuals in financial distress able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. The withdrawals will be tax-free and will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
- Temporary reduction in minimum superannuation draw down rates – superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account based pensions and similar products reduced by 50% in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
- Deeming rates reduced – from 1 May, superannuation deeming rates reduced further to a lower rate of 0.25% and upper rate of 2.25%.
- Eligibility for access to income support eased to include sole traders and the self-employed, and to those caring for someone infected or in isolation.
Worker Support Scheme & Extension
Under the current scheme, a one-off payment of $1,500 is available to workers who are unable to work during their isolation, have no income during this period, and are not entitled to any paid sick leave, special pandemic leave or other income support.
The Government will now extend the scheme to ensure that as soon as a person is tested, they will be eligible for a $300 support payment from the Victorian Government – as long as they meet the eligibility of the existing scheme.
This will ensure workers don’t have to pay the price for following health advice while they are waiting for their results – meaning they can afford to isolate immediately and avoid spreading the virus further through workplaces.
Victorian COVIDSafe Deep Clean Rebate
The COVIDSafe Deep Cleaning Rebate is to help eligible Victorian businesses cover the cost of hiring professional cleaning services to conduct a ‘decontamination clean’ of their premises.
The rebate will cover up to 80% of the cleaning costs (per worksite), capped at a grant of $10,000.
It will be available for small and medium businesses where anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been on the premises when they may have been infectious.
- operate from a worksite or premises in Victoria where a person suspected or confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19) has been on site when they may have been infectious
- have undertaken a ‘deep clean’ or ‘decontamination clean’ of the affected worksite by a professional cleaning service in accordance with Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines on coronavirus (COVID-19) ‘deep cleans’ or ‘decontamination cleans’External link (opens in same window).
- have evidence of the expenditure incurred for the cost of the decontamination cleaning at the affected worksite and payment of the expenditure
- hold a valid Australian Business Number (ABN)
- have an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20 on an ungrouped basis
- be registered with WorkSafe if employing people
- be registered as a trading business with the responsible federal or state regulator.
Businesses that have received funding from other initiatives under the Victorian Government’s Economic Survival Package and Business Support Package are also eligible to apply for this program.
More information and business eligibility criteria is available on the Business Victoria website.
Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme
Under the existing Scheme, the Government is providing support to SMEs by guaranteeing 50% of new unsecured loans.
The next phase of the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will help businesses move out of hibernation and successfully adapt to the new COVID-safe economy.
Key changes to the Scheme include:
- Extending the purpose of loans able to be provided beyond working capital, such that a wider range of investment can be funded;
- Permitting secured lending (excluding commercial or residential property);
- Increasing the maximum loan size to $1 million (from $250,000) per borrower;
- Increasing the maximum loan term to five years (from three years); and
- Allowing lenders the discretion to offer a repayment holiday period.
The expanded Scheme will provide access to working capital to help businesses stay afloat. And will also give businesses more affordable and longer-term credit so that they can invest for their future.
The initial phase of the Scheme remains available for new loans issued by eligible lenders until 30 September 2020. The second phase of the Scheme will start on 1 October 2020 and will be available until 30 June 2021.
Tax Relief for Victorian Landlords
If you are a commercial or residential landlord and you meet the eligibility criteria for tax relief, you can access the following:
- Landlords who provide rent relief to tenants impacted by COVID-19 could be eligible for a 25% reduction on 2020 land tax.
- This 25% land tax reduction is also available to land owners who are unable to find a tenant for their property due to COVID-19 (commercial and residential).
- Landlords can also defer the remainder of their 2020 land tax to 31 March 2021.
Click here for eligibility requirements and FAQs.
For land tax relief and other coronavirus economic relief in other states and territories, please see the relevant government website:
- New South Wales
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- Northern Territory
- Australian Capital Territory
Tourism & Aviation Support Program
In March 2021 the Federal Government announced measures to boost Australia’s domestic tourism economy.
Discounts will be offered on air fares across an initial 13 key tourism regions. The discounts will be off the average fare and will be available on airline websites from 1 April 2021.
Other new measures in the support package include:
- New International Aviation Support to help Australia’s international passenger airlines maintain more than 8,000 core international aviation jobs
- Support for regular passenger airports to meet their domestic security screening costs
- A new Aviation Services Assistance Support Program to help ground-handling companies meet the costs of mandatory training, certification and accreditation to ensure they maintain their workforces so they can stand them back up when the market expands again.
- The reinstatement of domestic aviation security screening cost rebates for more than 50 regular passenger airports
The $50 million Business Events Grants Program will also be extended by three months to support Australian businesses to hold multi-day business events, covering up to 50 per cent of costs incurred in participating business events during the 2021 calendar year. This will help restart Australia’s business events sector.
The $94.6 million Zoos and Aquarium program will be extended by six months to support zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks to maintain their animal populations where their tourism revenue has been affected by travel and social distancing restrictions.
The COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program will also be extended for three months beyond 13 March 2021.
Read the package announcement here.
Coronavirus Superannuation Updates
As part of the economic response to Coronavirus, superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products will be reduced by 50% in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
|Age||Default minimum drawdown rates (%)||Reduced rates by 50 per cent for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years (%)|
Example from Government Fact Sheet:
Mike is a 66 year old retiree with a superannuation account-based pension.
The value of Mike’s account-based pension at 1 July 2019 was $200,000. Under current minimum drawdown requirements, Mike is required by legislation to drawdown 5 per cent of his account balance over the course of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years.
This means Mike has to drawdown $10,000 by 30 June 2020 to comply with the minimum drawdown requirements. Following the temporary reduction in minimum drawdown requirements, Mike will now only be required to drawdown 2.5 per cent of his account balance, that is, $5,000, by 30 June 2020.
If Mike has already withdrawn over $5,000 for 2019-20, he is not able to put the amount above $5,000 back into his superannuation account. 2 On 1 July 2020 the value of Mike’s account-based pension is $180,000 (after drawdowns and investment losses).
During 2020-21, Mike is required to drawdown 2.5 per cent of his account balance, which is $4,500, instead of $9,000. As a result of this change to minimum drawdown requirements, Mike is able to preserve his capital while still drawing an income from his superannuation.
Please contact our Superannuation Administrator, Anne Burridge, with any questions or concerns regarding your superannuation.
Helpline for Businesses during Coronavirus
Call the business helpine: 13 28 46
The Morrison Government’s business hotline will give more support to SMEs impacted by the Coronavirus
The 13 28 46 Contact Centre opening hours will increase to seven days per week, answering calls from 7am to 11pm AEST.
Financial Hardship Helplines
Click here for a detailed hardship guide broken down by lender.
|Lender Name||Financial Hardship Phone Number|
|Adelaide Bank||1300 652 146|
|AMP||1300 130 191|
|ANZ||1800 252 845|
|Auswide Bank||1300 138 831|
|Bank of China||1800 095 566|
|Bank of Melbourne||1300 630 266|
|Bank of Sydney||13 95 00|
|Bankfirst||03 9834 8530|
|Bankwest||1300 787 144|
|Better Choice||1300 334 336|
|Beyond Bank||13 25 85|
|Bluestone||13 25 83|
|Choicelend||1300 144 554|
|Citibank||1800 722 879|
|Commonwealth Bank||1300 720 814|
|Firstmac||13 12 20|
|Heritage Bank||1800 222 030|
|ING||1300 349 166|
|LaTrobe Financial||1800 620 639|
|Liberty||13 11 33|
|Macquarie||1300 363 330|
|ME Bank||1300 500 520|
|MyState||13 80 01|
|NAB||1800 701 599|
|Pepper Money||1800 356 383|
|RedZed||1300 722 462|
|Resimac||1800 701 599|
|St George||1800 629 795|
|Suncorp||1800 225 223|
|Virgin Money||1800 701 997|
|Westpac||1800 067 497|
Mental Health Resources
These are some tips from Beyond Blue for managing your mental health during this time of uncertainty. Please click here for their more detailed advice page.
- Try to maintain perspective
- Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage
- Access good quality information
- Try to maintain a practical and calm approach
- Try not to make assumptions
Managing your mental health during Coronavirus lockdowns:
There are a number of ways to support your mental health during periods of lockdown, self-isolation or quarantine.
- Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
- Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus.
- Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
- Connect with others via the Beyond Blue forums thread: Coping during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
- Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
- Try to maintain physical activity.
- Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
- For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space.
- Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by the news of the Coronavirus outbreak. We encourage people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:
- activate your support network
- acknowledge feelings of distress
- seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.
For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms. Acknowledge feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required.
The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Coronavirus Jobs Hub
For those who have found themselves unexpectedly unemployeed due to the Coronavirus impact.
There are some areas of the economy which have an increased demand for workers during this COVID-19 crisis, including health and care sectors, transport and logistics, some areas of retail, mining and mining services, manufacturing, agriculture and government sectors.
The Jobs Hub is a Government website to help people find advertised vacancies.
Click here to find out more.
Australia’s Vaccine Rollout
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines will become available in phases, beginning with priority groups such as quarantine workers, frontline healthcare providers, aged care workers and patients, elderly residents and those with high risk medical conditions.
Full details are on the Department of Health website.
National Coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline
If you need information about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines or help with the COVIDSafe app, you can call the national helpline on: 1800 020 080.
We’ll bring you more details as soon as they become available. We recommend subscribing to our mailing list to stay in the loop.
You can also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage you to get in touch if you are concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on your business or personal affairs.
Click here to find out how we’re handling Coronavirus at Aintree Group.
Click here to see our specialist Coronavirus Consultation options.
Stay safe and well!