Restaurants, cafes and other hospitality establishments located in Brisbane are expecting to take a massive hit as the city enters Australia’s first covid-19 lockdown since the end of JobKeeper.
Under the new lockdown rules, hospitality venues are only able to serve take-away or home delivery options to their customers.
Non-essential businesses such as; gyms, cinemas, hairdressers, beauty and personal care services have all been forced to shut their doors.
A three day snap lockdown was announced by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with the purpose of being circuit breaker to limit the spread of the virus within the community as much as possible.
Brisbane residents are only leave their homes for essential goods and services, exercise, attending work or childcare and caring responsibilities.
The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association anticipates that businesses in the Greater Brisbane region will lose over $50 million in revenue, and nearly $15 million in produce and stock that will need to be thrown away.
With no JobKeeper or safety net to support these businesses, the lockdown has given businesses a crushing blow who were looking forward to a busy Easter weekend period. Tourists have cancelled their bookings and will no longer be visiting the region.
According to statistics released by the Treasury, Queensland had over 154,000 workers on JobKeeper during the month of February. These figures meant that Queensland was the third most dependent state on the scheme during its second last month.
After Brisbane was forced into a three day snap lockdown in January, it has taken close to two and a half months for many businesses to recover from the financial damage. This latest lockdown might result in the permanent closure for some businesses.
The potential for more businesses to close and more people to lose their jobs is concerning as Brisbane currently has the highest unemployment rate out of all of Australia’s capital cities.
Australia has 87 labour markets, and three of the 10 labour markets with the highest unemployment rates are located in the wider Brisbane area that has been locked down: Logan, Moreton Bay and Ipswich.
The discontinuation of JobKeeper which came into effect on Sunday 28th March will result in the closure of a large number of “zombie businesses”. A zombie business is a business that is only able to exist with the support of government stimulus, once the government incentives are ended the business is no longer able to survive.
As a result of JobKeeper a lot of businesses managed to keep their most experienced staff. Without JobKeeper having to find and reemploy new skilled staff would’ve cost a lot of time, money and resources for businesses who were desperate to re-open as soon as restrictions were lifted.
One of the biggest success stories of JobKeeper is that it prevented the unemployment rate from spiking. Employees who were paid JobKeeper were still considered as ’employed’ even though they were being paid by taxpayer funds, in many cases to work zero hours.
At the peak of the pandemic, almost a third of Australian workers were on JobKeeper. This totalled to 3.6 million Australian workers, out of a work force of around 13 million.
The number of employees across the country requiring JobKeeper has dropped as the economy continues to recover. The number of Australian workers on JobKeeper dropped down to 1.6 million in October, 1.5 million in December and 1.1 million in January.
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