Business Community calls for re-assessment of constraints beyond the end of JobKeeper.

Today, Business SA, South Australia’s independent Chamber of Commerce and Industry, raised concerns that the imminent end of JobKeeper must be the catalyst to reduce restrictions, or it will risk causing further job losses.

Business SA is calling on the South Australian Transition Committee to make an immediate adjustment to current restrictions to allow for at least a 75% capacity for all constrained businesses, including gyms, personal care, recreation centres, health services, retail and entertainment venues, or enable an equivalent 1 person per 1.5 square metre rule.

Business SA – Business community calls for re-assessment of constraints beyond the end of JobKeeper The current 1 per 2 sqm rule extends much further than hospitality, and we need to bear in mind that the sectors most impacted throughout the pandemic period remain constrained, yet we have not had community transmission of COVID-19 in South Australia since November last year.

Gym capacities are hamstrung, as are children’s play centres and movie theatres. The entertainment industry is almost written off with many venues unable to justify the cost of entertainers versus lower revenues from limited patron numbers. 

Business SA is aware of businesses being forced to make staff redundant that have been on JobKeeper since its commencement. With South Australia already having the nation’s highest unemployment rate, the Chamber is concerned that this will result in increased unemployment figures unless the State Government eases the restrictions and takes the handbrake off businesses.

Justin Brinkies, Co-Founder of Agile Group, who operates The Ice Arena and owns PUMPT Gyms is still trying to recover the costs of the 2 lockdowns in 2020 and is operating businesses that are still trading at 50% of usual level. Like so many other employers, Justin is about to lose JobKeeper.

“We are trading within the rules, and ensuring compliance is high with regards to checking in, capacity limits are adhered to and we ensure everyone is keeping their distance, but when public transport has no cap and Adelaide Oval will be at 75% when the footy starts, it’s hard to see why we can’t be too.”

Business SA Chair, Nikki Govan said “with cooler weather imminent and day light savings soon coming to an end, hospitality venues will not be able to rely on outdoor seating for the extra numbers, and the flow on means that suppliers of food and beverages are impacted… that means less jobs.”

Further, and we ask the State Government for clarity on this, we are aware that smaller offices, universities, and training centres are limited in numbers due to unclear social distancing requirements and capacity constraints. Keeping 1.5m away from each other means many businesses are still on working from home arrangements, posing a significant ongoing threat for the CBD.

Business SA CEO Martin Haese, said “Business SA, like many of our members who have facilities, offices and training rooms that are running at limited capacity, understand first-hand the impact that the continuation of the 1 per 2 sqm rule is having on their business viability. We believe that it is now time to wind this back to 1 per 1.5 metres. It will provide welcome relief for thousands of businesses.

New Zealand, who ranked #1 in their response to the COVID pandemic by the Lowy Institute, under their measure of Alert Level 1 which is comparable to the current situation in South Australia, lives under no restrictions with the exemption of closed international borders, QR code scanning and face masks on public/air transport.

Business SA says that the current 1 per 2 square metre restrictions now need to be reconsidered or many businesses won’t survive winter.

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