With Newcastle’s COVID-19 outbreak forcing businesses across the city to unexpectedly shut their doors, urgent financial support is needed, according to Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp.
In the past week alone, 4,427 new cases of the virus have been detected in the Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD), with the bulk occurring in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie LGAs.
Those numbers also resulted in the cancellation of the Lunar Electric music festival, which was due to have taken place at Camp Shortland with a crowd of 12,000 at the weekend.
Several super-spreader events in the city put thousands of people into isolation, too, with a devastating knock-on effect.
A number of local businesses have since been forced to shut their doors due to lack of available staff.
This, compounded with patrons cancelling bookings or limiting their movements due to concerns about acquiring COVID-19, has seen some venues’ weekly turnover plummet by up to 90%.
The Young Street Hotel, at Carrington, is just one of the impacted businesses.
It’s reported takings of just $8,700 last week compared to $82,000 the previous seven days.
The venue faced booking cancellations worth a total of 880 people.
“Honestly, this cannot be the way that we move forward,” owner Luke Tilse said.
“Even lockdown was better.
“At least then we got support – and knew our staff was being looked after.
“There is no guaranteeing this won’t happen again in a month, two months, a year.
“They (NSW Government) need to change the structure of how they deal with this (today) before more pain is heaped on businesses that have jumped every hurdle thrown in front of them up until this point.
“In my opinion, they need to either roll back to the lockdown, masks, square metre world (that no one wants), or completely change how they deal with outbreaks.”
Mr Crakanthorp said the NSW Government’s plan for opening up the economy had completely backfired.
“Newcastle has been guinea pig for opening up the economy,” he stated.
“And, it’s very quickly turned out to be the test case for what governments should not do.
“Both NSW Health and HNELHD have recommended people postpone social gatherings and locals have embraced that advice.
“Health needs to be the priority, but local businesses cannot be left to take the financial hit each time there is a major outbreak.
“This should be the busiest time of year in retail and hospitality.
“However, businesses are being forced to close their doors through absolutely no fault of their own.
“After the year they have had, many are on the brink, and without urgent support this may be the final nail in the coffin,” Mr Crakanthorp added.
The NSW Government’s Summer Holiday Stock Guarantee only applies if a Public Health Order is enacted.
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