Hospitality operators say the Victorian government's latest $4200 grant, announced on Wednesday for licensed venues, isn't enough.
Warrnambool's The Hairy Goat owner Jade Kelson said while grateful, the eligible licensed hospitality venue funding of $4200 wouldn't cover his or most other venues' wages bills.
He said he had to cancel multiple group bookings of 50-plus people this week and similar large group bookings this weekend.
If the state lockdown ends on Tuesday as flagged by premier Daniel Andrews, Mr Kelson said they would return to density limits again which further hurt the business, limiting the number of patrons to 25.
"It's not so much the lockdown that hurts, it's the restrictions after the lockdown," Mr Kelson said.
"I can only seat 25 people, I rely on 100 people. That's what my business plan is based on, not 25 people. And then it takes four weeks to get to 50 people. It's just such a long process. We just finally got back to normality (after the May lockdown) and it's just reset it all again."
Mr Kelson has introduced timed restaurant sittings since COVID-19 to maximise its capacity, as well as online ordering, takeaway, and home delivery.
"They say (the lockdown) it's only five days or ten days but it's not," he said. "It's a month of pain. If they unlocked us and we had a full restaurant it wouldn't be as bad. You can carry that for a few weeks," Mr Kelson said.
He worries for his staff and he is focused on keeping them employed. "I've got staff relying on me to support them and that's the hardest thing. You've got to keep them ticking."
COVID-19 and the constant changes it brought with it was something businesses now had to factor in, he said.
"It's bloody tough but it's part of our business plan," Mr Kelson said. "We've got to learn how to survive in these shutdowns. We're all struggling for staff, everyone is. It's not because there's no staff out there, it's an uncertain future for them. They want something that's secure and we can't deliver that with all the lockdowns."
He said he was grateful for local support and said the city's hospitality operators regularly spoke and bounced ideas off each other.
Jonathan Dodwell from Images Restaurant said he too was grateful for any financial assistance as the business recovered from lockdowns in February, May as well as the current shutdown.
"Is it enough? No it's not enough," Mr Dodwell said of the payment. "It's welcome but we really need more. We're awfully close to the previous lockdown as well so we're trying to recover from that one and then being closed down again. I'm trying to keep all our staff on which is a very big expense.
He said wages were just one of the business overheads and retaining staff was a priority.
"The main thing is keeping your staff employed because they're our most important asset," he said.
The Cally publican Lucas Reid said the latest grant was "short-term relief for a problem that's going to continue for a lot longer."
He said while the process for financial assistance for businesses had improved, he'd like to see a similar approach for staff payments.
"We feel for our staff, Mr Reid said. "Hopefully the relief payments to our staff and the distribution becomes a little easier and similar to the business relief packages. Some of our staff are yet to receive a payment," he said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
A new round of the sporting clubs grants program will provide $2,000 grants for community sport and active recreation organisations for events that have been unable to proceed or will have to be cancelled or postponed.
Camperdown Football Netball Club president Aaron Sinnott said it had been fortunate to receive various grants from AFL Victoria and the government in the past 18 months to reactivate the club during the pandemic.
The money has helped the club adhere to COVID-19 regulations and overall running costs. "There's been extra costs and expenses with making sure we're compliant. This grant is more to do with cancelled events. You need those to generate money to run a club. Any funding that we receive goes towards the costs of running the club."
Warrnambool Football Netball Club president Ken Radley said all clubs in the district were "probably doing it harder than last year, with costs in setting up for the season."
"We understand it's the whole state, and the whole of Australia is affected. There's a lot of people putting their hands out for support, so you've got to be grateful for what comes forth."
He said the club also received grants last year to help with its operating costs.
"This will help keep us ticking along, especially with lost gate and canteen revenue. That's the main loss from our club," Mr Radley said.
"This time of year all clubs have their balls and larger social events so I'd say nearly every club would be in the same boat in having events cancelled."
"It certainly has been a challenge this year, and with the (WFNC's) relocation to Deakin (during the Reid Oval redevelopment) we've needed a lot of support and, you know the Warrnambool City Council has been fantastic in the support they've given us, both financially and with advice.
"It's been complicated by the relocation but obviously we'll be returning as a tenant to the best community sporting facility in the region. So, the long-term gain is really positive for our club."
The package, for Victorian workers and business owners, bolsters lockdown support payments as the state government announced a further $282.5 million in business grants on Wednesday.
It comes after the state's five-day snap lockdown was extended by a further seven days and 22 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Wednesday.
The package includes total payments of up to $7200 for licensed hospitality venues, $25,000 for public events suppliers, $7000 for live presenters and up to $2000 for suppliers.
Industry Support and Recovery minister Martin Pakula said he understood the cash grants would not cover all financial losses, but the government would continue to support businesses through the lockdown extension.
"I understand that for businesses that are doing it really tough, every bit of support is important but it also doesn't cover all of their losses," he said.
"That's understood by the government but we have provided $7 billion worth of support throughout this pandemic.
"We'll continue to support businesses as the need arises," he said.
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