Second lockdown hits Cobram businesses

By Morgan Dyer

Business owners in the Moira Shire experienced a feeling of déjà vu as stage three COVID-19 restrictions were re-introduced at 11.59 pm last Wednesday.

While many businesses like cafes and restaurants will try to push through with takeaway options, businesses such as beauticians had no choice but to shut the doors with the hope of re-opening when restrictions lift.

Three of Cobram’s Vanity Day Spa beauty therapists worked from 9.30 am to 10.30 pm in the three days before restrictions came into force in a bid to cancel as few appointments as possible.

Vanity Day Spa owner Andrea Tate said it had been a rollercoaster year.

“Closing the doors, the first time was very hard because everyone walked out of their businesses with a lot uncertainty,” she said.

“We didn’t know about JobKeeper, we didn’t know about any government assistance or what the future held.

“So, this time around, while it’s not easy, it’s a little bit easier in the fact we know what we have in place to help us.”

Ms Tate said the although JobKeeper was a great help to support her and her staff, it did not pay the other bills, which don't stop coming.

“You still have to pay for Workcover, rates, water and all your normal other bills,” she said.

“It’s not great timing as a lot of businesses in town would be finding it hard because it’s tax time and we all have Business Activity Statements due and a lot of other big bills are due for businesses around this time.”

In light of the second lockdown in Victoria, the Federal Government has made changes to the JobKeeper allowance to make it easier for businesses to access the next round of the program.

Previously, businesses and not-for-profits hoping to receive JobKeeper from September 28 to January 3 would have to show a significant fall in turnover in both the June and September quarters.

But under the nationwide changes, businesses just have to show turnover has significantly fallen for the September quarter, compared to the same period last year.

Staff who were employed as of Wednesday, July 1, will now be able to access the program.

The JobKeeper payment will reduce from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight from September 28 and to $1000 from January 4 next year.

Employees who work 20 hours or less will receive $750 a fortnight with a further reduction to $650 a fortnight until March 28 next year.

Ms Tate said although it was a tough time, she knew she had the Cobram community behind her.

“I have been doing beauty therapy for 29 years now and I have had the business for 11 years and I thought I would be backing off a little bit by now but life keeps on throwing me different curveballs,” she said.

“You have to ride it and hope for the best but its just not where I thought I would be at this stage.

“There are things that we never ever thought we would see in Cobram happen and unfortunately they have had to because of the pandemic.

“My clients are really supportive and I think the community is trying to help all businesses.”

During the shutdown, Ms Tate and her staff will take part in a range of educational opportunities, provide retail services to clients and launch a website in the coming weeks.

“We are still in here for our clients but it’s a matter of finding different ways to help,” she said.

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