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Support For Locked-down Sydney Firms Urged

Industry bodies are calling for financial support for businesses impacted by Sydney’s latest lockdown, which could cost retailers.

SYDNEY — Sydney’s latest lockdown will inflict AU$750 million ($569.64 million) of “carnage” on businesses during one of the busiest times of the year, the retail peak body says, sparking calls for financial assistance.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued the localized stay-at-home orders on the morning of June 25 after the state recorded another 22 new local cases of Covid-19.

The seven-day lockdown, which will come into force from midnight, applies to people who live or work in the Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and City of Sydney council areas.

National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said that retailers accept the need for a lockdown, but it will be “carnage” for them.

Map for Sydney Australia 2

It is the city’s first lockdown without the JobKeeper program in place and comes in the final week of end-of-financial-year sales.

The National Retail Association is a not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of retailers across Australia. As per them, the retail industry plays a huge role in Australia’s economy, employment and greater livelihood, and they are dedicated to helping unite retailers and stakeholders for the success of the industry now and in the future.

“Rather than seeing consumers stampede into town to cash in on bargain sales, Sydney shopping precincts will resemble a ghost town,” she said.

“Retailers understand that this is the last resort option, but it’s certainly going to come at a cost.”

That cost could be as high as AU$750 million ($569.64 million) in lost retail sales, she says.

There are also concerns the lockdown will set business in the CBD — which is yet to bounce back from the pandemic — back even further, Lamb says.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued the localized stay-at-home orders on the morning of June 25 after the state recorded another 22 new local cases of Covid-19. (Dean Lewins/AAP Image)

“Even if this lockdown is short and successful, it’s likely to further dent the number of consumers visiting the Sydney CBD once restrictions are lifted,” she said.

Lamb said the state and federal governments must urgently consider introducing financial support for businesses impacted by the lockdown.

Deputy chief executive of the Committee for Sydney Ehssan Veiszadeh also said the federal government needed to stump up the cash to keep businesses afloat.

“This is happening because the federal government was slow to purchase vaccines,” he said.

“Given Australia is going to repeatedly experience lockdowns until everyone is vaccinated, the federal government needs to have a program in place to support businesses and individuals.”

Business New South Wales chief executive Daniel Hunter was also supportive of the lockdown but flagged that any extended lockdown would have a devastating knock-on impact.

The Committee for Sydney is an urban policy think tank.

(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Ritaban Misra. Map by Urvashi Makwana)

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