We are keeping you in the loop as the Government and ATO roll out stimulus packages and other assistance in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Details are subject to change due to fluctuating Coronavirus case numbers across Australia. So stay tuned for future updates, restrictions, and assistance packages available.  

Contents:

Victorian Lockdown Updates

Lockdown regulations 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!

From 11:59pm Sunday 22 November 2020 Victoria is in the “Last Step” out of Lockdown.

Some of the key changes that apply across the whole of Victoria:

Masks

Face masks remain mandatory in some settings, unless you have a lawful reason not to wear one.

  • Face masks are no longer mandatory when you are outdoors, if you can stay 1.5 metres away from people that you don’t live with.
  • Use of face masks outdoors is required if you are unable to stay further than 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with, such as at public transport stations, outdoor markets, walkways and thoroughfares.
  • Face masks remain mandatory when indoors – for example the supermarket or on public transport
  • You must continue to carry a face mask with you at all times.

Seeing friends and family

  • There are no restrictions on reasons to leave home or distance.
  • Public gatherings of up to 50 people outdoors is permitted.
  • You may have up to 15 visitors per day at your home, and they can be from different households.
  • Visiting hospitals and care facilities: no restrictions on purpose, number of visitors or length of time for visits. Hospitals and care facilities set rules for visitors.

Education and childcare

  • Childcare is open.
  • Schools: on-site learning for all with safety measures in place​.
  • Adult education: students and staff return to campus for summer semester.

Work and business

  • Staged return to the workplace for small, medium and large companies with staggered arrival and exit times. Up to 25% of staff may attend onsite.
  • Work from home to continue for anyone else.

Find out more about:

Shopping, personal services, eating and drinking out 

  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars and nightclubs can open for outdoor and indoor seated service of food or drink. Indoor seated service for up to 150 people depending on the size of the venue. Outdoor seated service for up to 300 people (with a total venue limit of 300).  Nightclubs may open for seated service only. There is no limit on the size of the group you can sit or dine with.
  • For hospitality venues with less than 200sqm of floorspace indoors, the two square metre rule should be applied indoors with up to of 50 patrons allowed. QR codes must be used for venues using the small indoor venue density quotient. For venues with 200sqm of indoor floorspace or larger, the four square metre rule must be applied with up to 150 patrons allowed.
  • Retail – all open.
  • Beauty and personal care – clients can remove their masks for services such as facials, beard trimming and facial waxing, tattoos and piercings.  Masks should only be removed for the duration of the service.  Beauty and personal care services can be provided to clients in the home.
  • Real estate – open with a COVIDSafe Plan.  Cap on the number of people attending inspections and auctions, up to 20 people for an inspection, subject to the four square metre rule and for auctions, up to 50 people from any number of households.
  • Brothels, sex on premises and adult entertainment venues – open with limits.

Ceremonies and special occasions

  • Weddings – allowed with up to 150 people, smaller venues will have fewer people.  There is a maximum of 15 visitors if the wedding is held in a private residence. 
  • Funerals – allowed with up to 150 people, smaller venues will have fewer people.  There is a maximum of 15 visitors if the funeral is held in a private residence. 
  • Religion – public worship can occur with to 150 people allowed indoors.  Up to 300 people allowed outdoors.  Religious ceremonies can either be held outdoors or indoors, not both at the same time.  Smaller venues will have fewer people.

Entertainment, leisure and travel

  • Travel within Victoria – allowed.
  • Entertainment – indoor and outdoor venues open with the four square metre rule applied and patron caps. Staged return to events. Large events considered on an individual basis, based on requirements and epidemiology at the time.
  • Bands and music subject to venue limits and COVIDSafe requirements.
  • Casinos open  with patron limits. Electronic gaming venues with up to 150 per venue with every second gaming machine disabled. There is no longer a limit on the time you can spend in a gaming venue.
  • Karaoke bars – open with patron limits of up to 150, the four square metre rule applied, and group sizes of 20
  • Arcades, bingo centres and escape rooms can open for up to 150 people. Smaller venues will have fewer people. Groups limited to 20.
  • Amusement parks – open with four square metre rule applied, limits on groups and the number of patrons.
  • Community facilities including libraries can open for up to 150 people indoors and up to 300 people outdoors, subject to the four square metre rule. Groups are limited to 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
  • Accommodation – open. Group bookings of a household and up to 15 people.
  • Tourism groups and transport – groups of 20 indoors and in enclosed transport,  groups of 50 if outdoors or in open transport

Click here for a summary of restrictions directly from the Victorian government.

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.

For business

  • 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
  • Tax-free payments up to $100,000 for small business and not-for-profit employers. An increase in the previously announced initial tax-free payments for employers to a maximum of $50,000. In addition to this, a second round of payments will be made up to a maximum of $50,000, accessible from July 2020. 
  • Solvency safety net – temporary 6 month increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000, and an increase in the time companies have to respond from 21 days to 6 months. Directors also are provided with temporary relief from personal liability for trading while insolvent for 6 months.
  • Access to working capital – Introduction of a Coronavirus SME guarantee scheme protecting financial institutions by guaranteeing 50% of new loans to SMEs.
  • Sole traders and self-employed eligible for Jobseeker payment – the eligibility criteria to access income support relaxed for the self-employed and sole traders.
  • Temporary relief from some Corporations Act requirements

For individuals

  • Household stimulus payments to drive cash into the economy
  • Tax-free $750 payment to social welfare recipients
  • 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%.
  • Supplements increased, access extended and eased – for 6 months from 27 April 2020:
  • A temporary coronavirus supplement of $550 will be paid to existing income support recipients (people will receive their normal payment plus $550 each fortnight for 6 months).
  • A second one-off stimulus payment of $750 will be paid automatically from 13 June 2020 to certain income support recipients (in addition to the payment made from 31 March 2020).
  • 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.
  • Waiting periods and assets tests temporarily waived.  
  • Bankruptcy safety net – temporary 6 month increase to the threshold for the minimum amount of debt required for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against a debtor from $5,000 to $20,000.

This is just a summary of the changes being made. For full details please read here.

JobKeeper Allowance

Please note applications for JobKeeper closed on 31 May 2020.

JobKeeper 2.0

From 28 September 2020, eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment is based on actual turnover in the June 2020 and September 2020 quarters.

Then the payment will be stepped down and paid at two rates, as follows:

From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021

  • Payment Rate #1: $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks before 1 March 2020, were working in the business for 20 or more hours a week on average, and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for more than 20 hours per week
  • Payment Rate #2: $750 per fortnight for employees who were working in the business for less than 20 hours a week on average, and business participants who were actively engaged in the business less than 20 hours per week in the same period.

From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021

  • Payment Rate #1: $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who in the four weeks before 1 March 2020, were working for 20 more hours a week on average, and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for more than 20 hours per week
  • Payment Rate #2: $650 per fortnight for employees who were working for less than 20 hours a week on average, and business participants who were actively engaged in the business for less than 20 hours per week in the same period.

Read more about changing eligibility criteria here

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.

More information available on the DHHS website. 

Victorian Business Resilience Package

The Victorian Government announced the “Business Resilience Package” in September 2020. It will provide $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and support to Victorian businesses impacted by Coronavirus. It also includes a third phase of the Business Support Fund grant program.

The federal and Victorian governments have agreed to make the grants tax-free for small and medium business under Victoria’s Business Resilience Package. More details here

Business Support:

  • Small and medium sized business ($822 million): including the third round of the Business Support Fund (details above). 
  • Licensed Hospitality Business ($251 million): Grants of up to $30,000 for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres, based on their venue capacity and location. Click for more details.
  • Business Chambers and Trader Groups ($3 million): A competitive grants program to support metropolitan and regional business chambers and trader groups.
  • Alpine businesses ($4.3 million): Grants of up to $20,000 to help alpine businesses pay a service charge to Alpine Resort Management Boards.
  • Sole Trader Support Fund ($100 million): Grants of up to $3,000 to over 30,000 eligible sole traders who operate from a commercial premises or location to which the sole operator is the tenant or licensee.

Business Adaptation:

  • $20 million voucher program to assist sole traders and small businesses in building their digital capability
  • $15.7 million package to help Victorian exporters get their products to market and establish new trade channels.
  • $8.5 million expansion to the ‘Click for Vic’ campaign to encourage more Victorians to support local businesses.
  • $87.5 million Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package to support hospitality businesses prepare for COVID Normal reopening across Victoria.
  • $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund between the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne to support Melbourne on the roadmap for reopening to COVID Normal in the lead up to Christmas and during summer.

Waivers & Deferrals:

  • $1.7 billion to defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year
  • $41 million to bring forward the 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property for all of Regional Victoria
  • $33 million to defer the planned increase in the landfill levy for six months
  • $30 million to waive 25% of the Congestion Levy this year, with the outstanding balance deferred.
  • $27 million in liquor license fee waivers for 2021
  • $6 million to waive Vacant Residential Land Tax for vacancies in 2020.


See Business Victoria website for updates.

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.

ATO Administrative Relief

In order to assist taxpayers during this uncertain time, the ATO is introducing administrative relief measures and pledging flexibility.

This includes:

  • Up to a four-month deferral of the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement, including PAYG instalments, income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise.
  • The ATO will allow quarterly GST reporting businesses to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to.
  • Businesses will be allowed to vary pay-as-you-go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter.
  • Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero will also be allowed to claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters.
  • The ATO will also look to remit any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities.
  • Businesses can pay tax liabilities by allowing them to enter low interest payment plans.


The ATO will establish a temporary shop front in Cairns within the next few weeks to support the region’s small businesses. Other initiatives to bring support to the communities are being considered.

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 following links:

Commercial Rent Relief Package

Rental waivers and deferrals have been introduced for commercial tenants hit by the impact of the Coronavirus crisis.

  • Commercial landlords are legally required to engage with tenants who meet the criteria about rental arrangements.
  • Commercial landlords cannot terminate leases or draw on a tenant’s security, while tenants must honour leases.
  • Waivers of rent must account for at least 50% of the reduction in business.
  • Deferrals must be covered over the balance of the lease period and for no less than 12 months.
  • The code will apply to any tenancies where the landlord or tenant applies for JobKeeper and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less.
  • The arrangements will be overseen by binding mediation and a mandatory code will be rolled out in each state and territory.

Further updates and details still to come.

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.

AgeDefault minimum drawdown rates (%)Reduced rates by 50 per cent for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years (%)
< 6542
65-7452.5
75-7963
80-8473.5
85-8994.5
90-94115.5
95 +147

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

pandemic.
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 NameFinancial Hardship Phone Number  
Adelaide Bank1300 652 146
AMP1300 130 191
ANZ1800 252 845
Auswide Bank1300 138 831
Bank of China1800 095 566
Bank of Melbourne 1300 630 266
Bank of Sydney13 95 00
Bankfirst03 9834 8530
Bankwest1300 787 144
Better Choice1300 334 336
Beyond Bank13 25 85
Bluestone13 25 83
Choicelend1300 144 554
Citibank1800 722 879
Commonwealth Bank1300 720 814
Firstmac13 12 20
Heritage Bank1800 222 030
ING1300 349 166
LaTrobe Financial1800 620 639
Liberty13 11 33
Macquarie1300 363 330
ME Bank1300 500 520
MyState13 80 01
NAB1800 701 599
Pepper Money1800 356 383
RedZed1300 722 462
Resimac1800 701 599
St George1800 629 795
Suncorp1800 225 223
Virgin Money1800 701 997
Westpac1800 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.

General advice:

  • 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.

Seek support

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. 



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 admin@aintreegroup.com.au. 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!