Coronavirus Business Support

Updated Friday 25 September 2020.

Our Business Team is here to help

Even though there will be disruptions to many normal activities, Baw Baw Shire continues to support our business community.

We are introducing the Baw Baw Business Recovery Service, an experienced and dedicated resource to help you navigate through all the information available to ensure you obtain the right assistance.

To get in contact with our Business Recovery Service, email us at economic.development@bawbawshire.vic.gov.au or call us on 1300 BAW BAW.

Current restrictions - from Wednesday 16 September

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 16 September, regional Victoria - including Baw Baw Shire - will be in the Third Step Towards COVID Normal.

At this Step, there will be no restrictions on the reasons for leaving home or distances travelled, although you won’t be able to travel into areas with higher restrictions. The focus will be activities outdoors, however there will be some limitations on the numbers of people you can meet up with.  A household bubble will be introduced to allow for more social visits within the home, but this will also have limitations on numbers.

What does this mean for you

Under the current restrictions, the following are able to operate:

  • Restaurants and cafes - predominantly outdoor dining, group limit of 10 and density limits apply.
  • Retail businesses can now open, including pet stores, hairdressing, beauty therapy, spa and massage and tattoo services where a face covering can be worn for the duration of service. Based on advice from DHHS, home-based hairdressing and beauty services are permitted to operate from home in a business capacity.
  • Weddings - allowed with up to 10 people (including the couple, two witnesses and celebrant).
  • Funerals - allowed with up to 20 people (infants under 12 months of age or people required to conduct the funeral not included in the limit).
  • Outdoor religious gatherings for up to 10 people plus a faith leader, places of worship open for private worship for households or social bubbles, plus a faith leader.
  • Caravan and camping parks can now open.
  • Accommodation can now open, with caps per the social bubble.
  • Outdoor entertainment and event venues can now open, subject to pre-approved COVID safe plans.
  • Real estate - private inspections can be made by appointment only, auctions can be held outdoors subject to gathering limits.
  • Indoor and outdoor market stalls can now open, with gathering limits in place per stall.
  • Outdoor based fitness classes, with gathering limits in place.

Under the current restrictions, the following businesses must remain closed:

  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues, health clubs, studios and personal training studios.
  • Cinemas, casinos, and night clubs.
  • Amusement parks and arcades.
  • Play centres and both indoor and outdoor.
  • Indoor swimming pools.
  • Community recreation centres

Temporary Extension of Outdoor Dining

Updated Outdoor Dining Restrictions – From 11:59pm on 16 September 2020

Currently, in the Third Step, the following restrictions apply to restaurants and cafes:

  • Maximum 10 people per group, seated 1.5m from other groups (both within the venue and between patrons at adjacent venues).
  • Tables must be cleaned after every customer.
  • Cleaning, signage and record keeping requirements apply.
  • Businesses must take reasonable steps to ensure that customers booking with them live outside of metropolitan Melbourne. This includes checking identification and refusing services to people who reside in metropolitan Melbourne.
  • Businesses must keep a record of customer details, including the date and time the person attended these facilities. These records should be kept for 28 days.
  • For indoor space: Businesses can serve customers indoors. There is a cap of 10 persons per indoor space, for up to two spaces per venue (for a maximum of 20 patrons), subject to density requirements of one person per 4m2.
  • For outdoor space: Businesses can serve customers outdoors. There is a cap of 50 customers seated outdoors per venue, subject to density requirements of one person per 2m2.

For further information on the current restrictions and what is permitted please visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/cafes-and-restaurants-regional-victoria-third-step-covid-19

I would like to extend my outdoor trading, where do I get started? 

To make sure the process is as streamlined as possible for our local business community we have developed a simple process to get you started.

  • Step One: Have a look at the checklist below to ensure you have everything ready to get started.
  • Step Two: Contact our Business Support Service on 1300 BAW BAW to discuss your proposal and how we can support you to get trading.
  • Step Three: Submit your application! To enable trade as soon as possible we are committed to prioritising all outdoor dining applications.

We understand outdoor dining may look a little different from business to business so please reach out to our Business Support Service who will assist with getting you started. 

Checklist for Outdoor Trading 

Council has developed a simple checklist for businesses to get started:

  • You have read and understand the requirements set out for your business by the Victorian Government. For further information on these guidelines visit Department Health and Human Services
  • You have developed and and implemented a COVID Safe Plan for your business to protect your staff, customers, and visitors. For assistance preparing a COVID Safe Plan Business Victoria has some great resources you can find at www.business.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-safe-business/covid-safe-plan, if you would like any further support please reach out to our Business Support Service on 1300 BAW BAW
  • Think about your business and how many customers you can accommodate and the resources you will need to support them. Any decision to undertake outdoor trading will impact (hopefully positively!) on your business and ensuring you have the staff; physical resources and the financial viability will set you up for success. Please note, we can only allow outdoor trading up to your business’ permitted number of patrons.
  • Have a think about your neighbours, if you would like to extend your outdoor trade be sure to have a chat with them, we encourage our community to keep working together throughout these times.
  • Consider your customers – Council has a responsibility to ensure the safety and amenity of our community. Access to and around your business should be considered and accommodate the needs of all members of our community. For information on the Footpath Trading Zone please visit www.bawbawshire.vic.gov.au/Your-Business/Footpath-Trading-and-Signs
  • Get out a pen and paper and draw your site plan, your application can be processed faster with a clear plan of your outdoor trading. Having a perfect drawing is not a requirement, however if you can indicate your current area of trade, where you would like to extend to and if you are required to increase your red line, be sure to include that as well.
  • Council will also ask you to nominate a start and end date for the temporary permit to be applied for. Consider what the next step looks like for your business and apply for a permit to support your business until trade starts to look normal again. Council will be providing extension of outdoor dining approvals until 28 February 2020.
  • You are required to provide a current Certificate of Liability for up to $10 million with your application. We would also suggest contacting your insurer to make sure the extension of trade is still covered by your policy.  
  • And last, but probably the most important step in the process is to get in touch with our Business Support Service to discuss your proposal. We can take you through the form, answer any questions you may have and support you through the process of commencing outdoor trade. 

Can I temporarily extend my liquor licence? 

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Licencing (VCGLR) have introduced a streamlined approach to help existing licensees temporarily use outdoor areas to supply liquor as outlined in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) roadmap to reopening.

Existing licensees will first need written permission from their local Council to use public external/outdoor areas that are not currently authorised under the licensee’s existing permanent liquor licence.

Once you have Council permission to use the outdoor area, and you subsequently apply for a temporary limited licence (outdoor area temp licence) this may be granted and a licence issued to you that allows the supply of liquor in the outdoor area

There is no fee associated with applying for an outdoor area temp licence from the VCGLR.

When completing your application you will be asked if you are seeking to obtain an extension to your existing liquor licence if you answer yes and you have provided the required information Council will supply you with a letter of support with your approved permit.

This letter can then be sent to the VCGLR for consideration to increase your liquor licence.

For more information please visit www.vcglr.vic.gov.au/covid-19

Waiver of Fees and Charges

Baw Baw Shire Council has removed all fees associated with footpath trading and outdoor eating to support our local business community to continue to operate during the impacts of COVID-19.

Additional support for current permit holders will also be offered. 

Application to Temporarily Extend Footpath Trading

If you would like to extend your footpath trading permit, please complete the form below.

Face Coverings for Business

In Victoria you must wear a face covering whenever you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so.

A face covering needs to cover both your nose and mouth and by covering your face, you’re keeping local businesses open, and keeping local people in work.

Don’t forget though even if you are wearing a mask you should keep 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.

What are my responsibilities as an employer of staff or as an employee?

At any workplace located within Victoria, you and your staff must wear a face covering at work, and to and from work, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so.

For employers, this means ensuring employees wear a face covering while at work, unless an exception applies.

Employers should encourage their employees to bring their own face covering where possible, however there is an obligation for employers to provide a face covering if an employee does not have one.

The general rule for this is that if your task requires you to wear a face mask or alternative face covering it must be provided by your employer. Employers also have a responsibility to identify whether there is a there is a risk to the health of employees from exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) at their workplace, as well as areas where employees are unable to stay 1.5 metres apart.

For more information about Face Masks in the workplace please visit the Business Victoria Website. 

COVIDSafe Plan – Mandatory for every Victorian Business

From 11:59pm on 13 September 2020, it is mandatory for every Victorian business to have a COVIDSafe Plan.

To ensure compliance, random spot checks will commence in regional Victoria from 29 September 2020.

Your COVIDSafe Plan must:

  • Set out the actions required to prevent the introduction of coronavirus in your business
  • Outline the level of face covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) required for you and your staff
  • Detail how you will prepare for, and respond to, a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in your workplace
  • Demonstrate how you will meet all the requirements set out by the Victorian Government. Some higher-risk industries or workplaces have additional requirements of employers and employees.

COVIDSafe Plans are not difficult to develop with plenty of templates to help get you started. However, they are important and designed to protect not only your business but our economy as our communities rebuild toward COVID Normal.

To get you started or support you as you develop your COVID Safe Plan head to COVIDSafe Plan Business Victoria. 

 

Free Contactless Thermometers for Business

The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) is providing contactless thermometers on behalf of the Victorian Government. The thermometers are for businesses who are operating with staff onsite as an additional measure to stop the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

All businesses are eligible to receive a contactless thermometer if they meet the following conditions:

  • Business has a registered Victorian premise (regardless of location within Victoria)
  • Business is still operating with staff physically onsite
  • Employ at least 5 staff members who work concurrently at the same premise
  • Business has not been able to procure a contactless thermometer from supplier.

If you meet these conditions and would like to apply, please complete the application form below. 

Baw Baw Shire Council Business Support

Baw Baw Business Support Service 

Throughout the impacts of COVID-19 our Baw Baw Business Support Service is available to all businesses. An experienced and dedicated resource to help you navigate through all the information available to ensure you obtain the right assistance.

To get in contact with our Business Recovery Service, email us at economic.development@bawbawshire.vic.gov.au  or call us on 1300 BAW BAW.

Virtual Market Resource Kit

Many of our incredible local makers and producers have recently faced challenges with sharing their incredible products with locals and visitors alike. The Victorian Government have shown support through initiatives such as Click for Vic and Victorian Country Markets.

Baw Baw Shire Council is supporting businesses to take advantage of these fantastic initiatives with a Virtual Market Resource Kit. The kit is designed to enhance businesses opportunity to sell products online via Virtual Market Place.

The contents of the kit include:

  • A $250 voucher for a local photographer to take images of products to showcase on Victorian Country Market
  • A coupon code for a free listing with ATDW (Australian Tourism Data Warehouse) to enable the business to be listed on Visit Victoria and the Tourism Australia website.
  • A free 30-minute consultation with our Tourism Officer providing advice and ease when navigating the application process.

For more information visit Virtual Market Resource Kit.

Victorian Government Business Resilience Package

The Victorian Government has invested $3 billion to help businesses impacted by ongoing restrictions and prepare for COVID Normal business.

$3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support will be delivered to Victorian businesses that have been most affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The package will help businesses survive and keep Victorians in jobs.

Below we have outlined the main aspects relevant for our community, to see the full list and other suitable funding opportunities please visit Business Resilience Package.

Business Support Fund (Third Round)

The Victorian Government recently announced a third round of the Business Support Fund – ensuring businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions continue to receive the support they need to make it through restricted trading.

Through this third round of the Business Support Fund, eligible businesses will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000, depending on the business’ annual payroll. Only employing businesses in eligible sectors can apply for a grant from this program, in recognition that these industries are the most affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

For more information or to apply visit Business Support Fund (Third Round).

Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund

The Victorian Government is providing support for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres to help them survive through ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

Grants from this program will provide metropolitan and regional hospitality businesses with cashflow assistance and support these businesses to survive extended periods of trading restrictions. Eligible hospitality businesses will receive grants of up to $30,000 based on the location of their premises and maximum patron capacity.

For more information or to apply visit Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund

Sole Trader Support Fund

The Sole Trader Support Fund provides support to non-employing Victorian sole traders operating out of commercial premises or locations within specific sectors. In regional Victoria you may be eligible for a grant if your non-employing business operates in an eligible sector that is Restricted, Heavily Restricted or Closed in the Second.

For more information or to apply visit Sole Trader Support Fund

Grants for Business Chambers and Traders Groups

The Victoria Government is providing funding to Victorian business chambers and trader groups for initiatives that will help support their members as we move into recovery and COVID Normal.

Grants of $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 will be awarded to eligible groups through a competitive application process.

Preliminary applications are currently open. Victorian business chambers and trader groups are invited to submit an expression of interest by completing and submitting the preliminary application form no later than 5 October 2020.

Eligible groups will then be invited to provide a detailed project proposal for further assessment.

For further information or to submit a preliminary application please visit Grants for Business Chambers and Traders Groups

Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package

The Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package has been designed to help businesses prepare for COVID Normal by creating safe outdoor dining spaces.

Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of $5,000 for eligible hospitality businesses with an annual payroll of less that $3 million. This fund is to help pay for the practical things like umbrellas, outdoor furniture, screens and other equipment which will help the indoor dining and cafe experiences Victorians love move outdoors. Grants can also assist businesses with training, marketing and other costs associated with adapting new or expanding existing outdoor dining or entertainment.

For more information or to apply visit Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package

Australian Government Business Stimulus Package

Extension to JobKeeper Payment

The JobKeeper Payment is a scheme set up by the Federal Government to support businesses significantly affected by the coronavirus and keep the relationship between employees and employers during changes and closures to busineses. The JobKeeper Payment is administered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The JobKeeper Payment, which was originally due to run until 27 September 2020, will now continue to be available to eligible businesses (including sole traders) until 28 March 2021.

The payment rate of $1,500 per fortnight for eligible employees and business participants will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020 and to $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021. From 28 September 2020, lower payment rates will apply for employees and business participants that worked fewer than 20 hours per week.

From 28 September 2020, and businesses seeking to claim the JobKeeper Payment will be required to demonstrate that they have suffered an ongoing significant decline in turnover.

For more information in your eligibility or to apply visit the Australian Taxation Office.

Supporting Apprentices and Trainees

The Australian Government has announced a $2 billion JobTrainer skills package, to reform the Vocational Education and Training sector and keep apprentices in jobs. In partnership with the states and territories, more Australians will have access to free, or low cost, training places in areas of identified skills needs through the establishment of a new $1 billion JobTrainer fund.

Eligibility for the subsidy will be expanded to include medium-sized businesses with 199 employees or fewer who had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2021. The wage subsidy has been extended until March 2021. To check your eligibility or to apply visit Australian Apprenticeships. 

Training Opportunities

In light of the evolving COVID-19 situation and the advice of relevant authorities, Baw Baw Shire Council has cancelled or postponed all face-to-face, non-essential Council run events, workshops and programs.

To support our business community through this challenging time, we will be providing webinars and online based training opportunities for free, please keep checking back on our Workshops and Seminars page as we announce more events. These are designed to be as relevant and helpful to businesses and we welcome all feedback and suggestions to deliver valuable support to our business community.

We can also refer you to some of our training partners to provide personalised support and coaching, these programs offer a range of support from general business advice, accounting, legal, marketing and more. Contact the team and we can point you in the right direction. 

Mental Health for Business Owners

Being a business owner is challenging at the best of times, and with the impacts of COVID-19 every business has faced disruption, increasing stress levels and impacting mental health.

It is important to know how to look after your mental health, as well as that of your employees, here are a few tips from us:

  • Stay connected: call your staff, your friends and your family, get online and and use video chat where possible.
  • Stay active: get outside and enjoy some exercise each day, marathon running not required, even a walk around the block each day will work wonders.
  • Eat well: while a little chocolate is good for the soul try and eat regular, healthy meals.
  • Take a break: Find a moment to do something you enjoy, whether it's dancing in the kitchen, or sewing, or gardening, take the time to enjoy your hobbies.
  • Get support: you may have to pivot your business, or let go of staff, access resources from Council to help you build a plan on how to shift, or how to allow yourself and your business to have hope for the future.

And if you are struggling, or a staff member is facing challenges, reach out and speak to a friend or a professional. You can contact your GP and set up a mental health plan to get access to professional services or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

Be Kind to Business

As our community responds with precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many local businesses are feeling the impacts.

Council is currently working through ways we can assist directly with things like rates, fees and charges. We’re also advocating to other levels of Government for the need for assistance with rates relief.

To encourage our local community, we have started introducing Be Kind to Business Baw Baw initiative. 

In the face of the current challenges, it has been amazing to see local businesses and residents respond to changing situations so quickly. By supporting local businesses where we can, we are all helping to keep our economy resilient and ready to bounce back. 

Here are some helpful tips to share with your customers to support them to Be Kind to Business in Baw Baw:

  • Buy a gift card now and enjoy it later. It helps businesses keep cash flowing and it’ll be a great reason to get out and celebrate when things open up again.
  • Shop online with local businesses. Lots of our local businesses have a website for shopping online and lots of great products on show via their Instagram and Facebook Pages.
  • Shop over the phone. If your favourite business isn’t online, give them a call and see if you can buy your product over the phone to arrange a quick pick up or arrange delivery.
  • Leave a review. It’s a tough and uncertain time for many businesses, and if you can’t spare the cash head online and leave them a review, show them a little love so our businesses know just how much they mean to our community!
  • Get on social media: Like, comment, and share posts from local small businesses. A click of a button, or a friendly comment means more people will see their posts, and they can share their products and services with even more people.

COVID-19 Business Support Resources

With an abundance of information available to businesses, we have put together the ultimate ‘hit list’ of resources to support you finding the information you need. Below is a list of just a few of our favourite resources.

If you have any questions or would like to know more don’t hesitate to reach out to our Business Support Service on 1300 BAW BAW.

  •  Keep up to date with advice from the Department of Health and Human Services. The requirements for safely operating your business can be different depending on your industry, location and several other factors. Checking this link regularly will help ensure you stay up to date with the latest information.
  • Make sure you have a COVIDSafe Plan it is a requirement for every Victorian business. These plans can be fairly simple to set up and will protect your business, your staff and our community, a great resource (and a template for you to fill in) can be found at Creating a COVIDSafe workplace.
  • The Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) have developed an Industry Support Hub. It has a variety of resources for tourism business including guidelines for reopening, signage, creating a safe workplace, managing an outbreak and much more. This information is customised to each industry and is a valuable resource to support you on your journey to reopening and beyond.
  • The Department of Health has launched a national campaign to inform all Australians about the coronavirus. They have developed a range of resources for businesses to use.
  • Business Victoria also has some great resources on dealing with coronavirus or you can contact the Business Victoria Hotline on 13 22 15.
  • FairWork Australia is also a great resource for anyone looking to understand their rights and obligations. You can find further information at FairWork Australia.
  • Take care of yourself and your loved ones. This is a stressful time for many business owners. If you are worried about your mental health, or the mental health of a loved one, don’t be afraid to reach out if you need support.

 


For the latest advice and resources on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, see the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) coronavirus page.