Business plea for help

Ryrie Street. (Louisa Jones) 223070_02

By Luke Voogt

The plight of thousands of local businesses struggling through yet another lockdown has prompted Geelong Chamber of Commerce to call for more government assistance and greater clarity on COVID-19 restrictions.

“I know a lot of businesses are choosing to stay shut rather than reopen [when lockdowns end] because of the impact of subsequent restrictions,” said Ben Flynn, chief executive of the chamber.

“Businesses need a clearer road map through lockdowns that limit the trail of restrictions that seem to go on and on afterwards.”

The looming threat of further lockdowns before the Pfizer vaccine becomes available for the general population was almost as damaging as “lockdown 5.0” itself, Mr Flynn said.

“This lockdown and the recent lockdown 4.0 are likely just two in a number of lockdowns that are going to impact local businesses.

“Many people were just returning to the CBD with masks off for a few days and then, bang, it was lockdown again. The impacted industries tend to be the same ones every time.”

Mr Flynn welcomed state and federal governments last week announcing a range of payments for individuals and businesses impacted by the lockdown.

“But when [businesses] are looking at cancelling bookings for a number of weeks … the cash amounts really don’t go far enough.”

Meanwhile, a man in his 50s infected with COVID-19 remained in a critical but stable condition in intensive care at University Hospital Geelong yesterday, Barwon Health confirmed, as the Independent went to press.

The man was one of four positive cases in a Barwon Heads household, and attended the Geelong versus Carlton match at the MCG on July 10 with a friend who also tested positive.

That friend lives at the Maribyrnong apartment complex visited by the New South Wales removalists, from which the current Victorian outbreak originated.

COVID-19 testing in Geelong peaked in response to the local cases with more than 15,000 tests since Thursday last week, according to Barwon Health.

With some households released from isolation early, 140 local households remain in isolation with day 13 testing set to take place at the end of this week.