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Local businesses suffer with staff in isolation and customers staying home

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Tourism and hospitality businesses in Townsville are feeling the pinch as staff are forced to isolate and customers stay home.

Townsville Enterprise’s Lisa Woolfe says the current COVID situation has brought new challenges for the industries.

“We’ve got a number of people isolating and quarantining at home either because they are waiting on PCR tests to come back,” Ms Woolfe says.

“Or they’ve been deemed as a close contact where they may not actually have COVID and they may be quite able to work.”

“We’re currently seeing quite a number of our businesses in the sector either having to close their doors or are seeing massive reductions in trade.”

She says businesses are experiencing the same financial blows during lockdowns last year but government support has been wound back.

“We had schemes like JobKeeper, which kept businesses afloat and this is really something that we’re calling for at the moment that we really need to see reactivated.”

“Where you’ve got very low or no turnover and you’ve got large expenses of sick leave having to be paid out, it is causing quite a cash flow crunch for these businesses.”

Ms Woolfe says support is vital to keep the region’s tourism sector alive.

“It’s a critical industry for us here in Townsville… it supports almost 8,000 jobs in our local economy and contributes $1.2 billion dollars a year.”

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the government has provided unprecedented support to businesses and Australians in jobs.

“Including the loss carry back and immediate expensing measure, small business tax cuts and SME loan guarantee schemes," he says. 

“Our SME loan guarantee schemes have already supported more than 80,000 loans worth around $7.3 billion.”

“This vital funding will continue to help SMEs get to the other side of this crisis.”

He says it is in addition to COVID-19 Disaster payments and $10.2 billion in tax relief to more than 11.5 million Australians during the September quarter.

“This support has allowed households and businesses to strengthen their balance sheets.”