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Small businesses need clarity and certainty as soon as possible so they can plan for any future disruptions with the emergence of new COVID-19 variant, said the Council of Small Business Organisation of Australia.
COSBOA chief executive Alexi Boyd said the best thing governments on all levels can do now is to provide a clear pathway and workable policies to reduce further risk to the sustainability of small businesses.
“Small business owners want to be able to assure their employees, their customers – and themselves – that their business premise is safe,” Ms Boyd said.
“At this stage, we don’t know how much of a threat this variant is. But even if we just wait and see, community anxiety and confusion can still have a negative effect on small businesses by causing consumers to change their travel and spending habits.
“Small businesses are ready to step up and help keep their communities safe, but they need to know with certainty what they can do, what they’re required to do, and what they can’t do regarding vaccination mandates, mask mandates, density limits, cleaning, and contact tracing.
“If any of the rules tighten, this needs to be communicated with as much notice as possible and backed up by official government publications. A few hours’ notice isn’t good enough.
“If the variant turns out not to be dangerous, then that needs to be communicated far and wide to dispel community anxiety.”
Ms Boyd said small businesses need to know what support will be available to them if the worst-case scenario arrives so that they can plan for the future.
“If possible, the planned support should be nationally consistent and follow the same mechanism and application process as previous support packages to make it as familiar and efficient as possible,” she said.