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COVID-19: Councils pledge their support for businesses in wake of lockdown extension

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Mornington Peninsula Shire and Frankston City councils have vowed to support businesses reeling from the State Government’s move to extend COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Frankston City Council will deliver a $6.4 million relief and recovery package to help businesses and community groups through the pandemic. Mayor Sandra Mayer said extension of the Stage 4 restrictions to September 28 was disheartening for business operators whose livelihoods were on hold, saying: “Our thoughts are with them at this challenging time.” However, she said her council acknowledged the Government faced a difficult decision and had extended the lockdown to keep people safe from COVID-19.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Sam Hearn said he and CEO John Baker had met key business and tourism representatives over the extension, and their discussions had centred on urgent provisions to be made to enable businesses to maximise their trade and revenue over the peak summer period.

“Shire officers are putting the finishing touches to a business support actions roadmap that has been developed in consultation with local businesses,” Cr Hearn said. “We are committed to providing local businesses with the flexibility and options they need to trade over summer in a COVID-safe way and secure the revenue they need to survive.”

Cr Hearn said his council had already adopted a range of measures, including fast-tracking certain planning approvals, expediting payments to suppliers, extending the council’s hardship policy, providing businesses with online mentoring and more.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Mornington Peninsula Shire currently has 18 active COVID cases while Frankston City has 20.

However, the DHHS has refused to reveal where those people classified as active COVID cases had contracted the disease. “We respect the privacy of patients and we do not provide details about individual cases unless it is necessary to do so in the interests of public health,” a spokeswoman said. “There are strict procedures in place to protect the public whenever someone tests positive to coronavirus, including close contacts being identified and notified that they need to self-isolate and seek testing.  As part of our contact tracing, relevant public exposure sites are contacted and provided with advice about the transmission risks and any cleaning that may be required.”

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said the state’s economy was facing its biggest crisis in modern times. “The Government needs to allow Victorians to get back to work while managing the health crisis,” Mr Guerra said. “This cannot continue to be a choice of health over economy.”

However, public health officials have backed the Stage 4 lockdown extension, saying it would ultimately help the state recover from the pandemic faster.

Frankston business operators can click here or phone 1300 322 322 for help, and Peninsula businesses can click here or phone 1300 850 600.

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