Support for businesses affected by COVID-19

Published on 24 March 2020

Photo: Mia Mala McDonald

Updated 28 July 2020

Victoria has re-entered stage-three restrictions as of 8 July, which means that restaurants, cafés, pubs and other venues are limited to takeaway sales until at least 19 August.

On top of the stimulus packages and support already offered by the Australian and Victorian governments, further measures have been announced for Victorian businesses on the economic frontlines of the pandemic.

Below is an up-to-date summary of the measures most relevant to hospitality businesses, with new measures listed at the top.

Support for Victorian businesses

CBD Business Support Program

What: Businesses in the CBD who are feeling the brunt of reduced food traffic and the absence of office workers are eligible for targeted support. The Victorian government is establishing a $20 million fund, with more specifics on the scheme coming soon.

Who: Victorian government

When: TBC

More information:Register your details to get updates on the program

Local Lockdowns Business Support Program

What: Victorian businesses including cafes, restaurants, pubs and other venues that are operating within a postcode affected by the return to stage-three restrictions are eligible for a one-off, $5,000 grant. The grant is designed “to help them get through to the other side” of the six-week restrictions that begin on 8 July.

Who: Victorian government

When: TBC

More information: Register your details to get updates on the program


Tourism Accommodation Support Program

What: Financial support for regional accommodation providers in Victoria who may be facing cancellations from travellers residing in the lockdown areas. The payment is up to $225 per booking per night.

Who: Victorian government

When: TBC

More information: Register your details to get updates on the program


Night-time Economy Business Support Fund

What: For licensed venues, $40 million has been set aside from the Business Support Fund. This is to provide rent relief to those businesses with an individual turnover of up to $50 million that are not covered by the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme. Free mediation services will also be extended to all businesses on tenanted premises that hold a liquor licence.

Who: Victorian government

When: Applications to the fund close on 1 June 2020.

More information: Available from Business Victoria


Support for commercial tenants

What: Evictions for the non-payment of rent for commercial tenancies are banned for six months in cases involving small and medium-sized businesses. Rental increases will also be banned for commercial and residential properties. If you’re a small or medium-sized business that’s experienced more than a 30 per cent reduction in turnover, you can also be granted rental waivers or deferrals.

Who: Victorian government

When: From 29 March 2020 for six months

More information: Available from Business Victoria.


Land tax relief for landlords

What: Commercial landlords that provide rent relief to their tenants are eligible for land tax relief from the Victorian Government. There are conditions the tenant must meet, including an annual turnover of less $50 million, being eligible for the JobKeeper program, and financial stress or hardship as a result of the pandemic.

Who: Victorian government

When: From 29 March 2020 for six months

More information: Available from Business Victoria.


Payroll tax relief for JobKeeper

What: To qualify for the Australian Government’s JobKeeper payments, employers must pay a minimum of $1500 a fortnight to eligible employees. Any additional payments made to bridge the gap between an employee’s wage and the $1500 a fortnight required for the JobKeeper program are now exempt from payroll tax.

Who: Victorian government

When: From commencement of JobKeeper payments

More information: Available from the State Revenue Office.


Payroll tax deferment

What: Small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million can defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year.

Who: Victorian government

When: Covers the first quarter of 2020/21 financial year, with payments deferred to 1 January 2021.

More info: Available from the State Revenue Office.


Payroll tax refund

What: Full refunds on payroll tax are available for the 2019/20 financial year (this includes tax you’ve already paid). Small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million are eligible. This is a refund, not a loan. Payments should start being distributed by the Victorian government this week.

Who: Victorian government

When: From March 2020 onwards

More info: Available from the State Revenue Office.


Business Support Fund

What: A $500 million fund in Victoria for the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19, including hospitality, tourism and accommodation. The fund provides one-off grants of $10,000 to go towards costs such as rent, utilities and salaries, and business continuity planning, such as seeking financial and legal advice. Businesses from any sector that have a wages bill less than the payroll tax threshold of $650,000 that are participating in the JobKeeper program are also eligible.

Who: Victorian government, with input from Victorian Chamber, Australian Hotels Association and Ai Group

When: Applications to the fund close on 1 June 2020

More info: Available from Business Victoria. 


Working for Victoria Fund

What: A $500 million fund to help workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 find new work. This is includes jobs performing essential services the state needs right now, delivering food, for example, and there’s a job-matching component to the fund. Both workers and employers can register on the online platform to participate in job-matching.

Who: Victorian government

When: Currently

More info: Register your details to get updates on the fund, eligibility and more.


Liquor license fees

What: License fees are waived for 2020 for affected venues and small businesses.

Who: Victorian government

When: Covers the 2020 calendar year.

More info: Available from the Victorian Commission for Racing, Gaming and Liquor

Victorian land tax payments for 2020 are also being deferred to 31 March 2021. Find out more.

Support for Australian businesses

Wage subsidies

What: Known as the JobKeeper Payment, this is a measure to encourage employers to keep employees on the books and reconnect with them when they're ready to open their doors. Small businesses who have seen a downturn of 30% or more are able to claim $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible employee from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020. Full-time and part-time workers, as well as casuals who have been employed for 12 months or longer, are eligible.

From 28 September 2020, JobKeeper 2.0 will take effect (if the proposal passes Parliament). The extension of the scheme to March 2021 will involve employers demonstrating reduced actual GST turnover in order to requalify. Employers not currently on JobKeeper can apply for JobKeeper 2.0 if they believe their turnover has been affected by COVID-19. Under the extension, payments to employees will drop to $1,200 per fortnight for full-time workers and $750 for part-time workers, with a further reduction from 3 January 2021 to 28 March 2021.

Who: Federal government

When: The current scheme ends on 27 September 2020. The extension of the scheme has not yet been passed by Parliament, but if it's successful it will cover September 2020 to March 2021.

More info: Available from the Australian Treasury and Restaurant and Catering Association.

Cashflow boosts for business

What: Tax-free payments of between $20,000 and $100,000 are available to businesses with annual turnover of less than $50 million. The payment is tied to the total wages of a business’s employees and will be distributed through the ATO automatically, based on business activity statements. You do not need to apply for the cash flow boosts. If you are eligible, the cash flow boosts will be automatically applied to your account when you lodge your activity statement.

Who: Federal government

When: From 28 April 2020

More info: Available from the ATO.

Loan guarantees

What: From 1 April 2020, any new loans granted for working capital will be 50% underwritten by the federal government. This only applies to loans up to $250,000 for businesses with turnover of $50 million or less which have been affected by COVID-19. There are no repayments for the first six months, but the loan must be repaid within three years.

Who: Federal government

When: Loan applications between 1 April 2020 and 1 October 2020

More info: Available from the Australian Government.


Instant asset write-off 

What: The federal government’s scheme to write off the cost of any asset you purchase for your business in the same financial year is slated to be expanded. The threshold has been lifted to $150,000 from the previous $30,000. The government has also incentivised purchasing assets now rather than later, with a 15-month window before an accelerated depreciation timetable kicks in.

Who: Federal government

When: TBC

More info: Available from the ATO.


City of Melbourne has launched support programs to help COVID-affected businesses. These are of course specific to businesses operating within the council's boundaries, but they include:


Victorian Government hotline for affected businesses: 13 22 15

Use the Victorian Government financial assistance finder to access relevant support.

Find more resources on helping you navigate this new environment 


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