Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has revealed $5 million in fees, rents and charges will be waived for Brisbane businesses and community groups being heavily impacted by the spread of coronavirus.
Cr Schrinner said his Council’s latest economic relief package will benefit more than 5000 Brisbane businesses, sports clubs and community bodies by eliminating a significant number of fees and charges for the first quarter of 2022.
Food safety, outdoor dining, food trucks and temporary food stalls along with river moorings, film permits, advertising and live music fees will be among the charges eliminated as well as leasing costs for clubs and community groups on Council land.
For those organisations that have already paid these charges since January 1, the fee relief will be either be refunded or the relevant amount reflected in their next bill.
Cr Schrinner said he was determined to provide relief during what is the most difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic for many operators.
“Many business owners and community groups have told me that this is turning out to be the most difficult time of all since the pandemic began,” Cr Schrinner said.
“While there’s no formal lockdown and very few health orders in place, warnings about how people should limit their movements as the Omicron variant spreads through our community is having a devastating impact.
“Many businesses would have been counting on a bumper summer season to start making up for previous losses but instead they’re facing further declines in trade because their customers have vanished along with the support that was once available to them.
“The Council I lead is determined to be the most small business-friendly local government in the country so we’re stepping in to do what’s right and lend these local businesses a helping hand.
“I hope this leads to further relief measures. Things like power bill rebates or stamp duty and payroll tax concessions could be utilised to provide relief quickly to embattled businesses.”
Cr Schrinner said the lack of people in the Queen Street Mall was a graphic example of how businesses are struggling
“Queen Street Mall is our state’s premier shopping destination and this time of year it should be teeming with locals and tourists,” he said.
“While prior to Christmas things looked like they were returning to normal, our latest figures show foot traffic in Queen Street Mall is currently less than half pre-COVID levels.
“This isn’t just happening in Queen Street. It is also occurring in major shopping centres and suburban shopping strips.
“There’s a real risk of businesses closing and jobs being lost if this continues for much longer which is why Council is doing what we can.”
Under the package, the average CBD restaurant with outdoor dining will save more than $1800 while a suburban café that utilises the footpath will save almost $700.
A further $400,000 will be set aside for the commercial operators who lease Council buildings if they can demonstrate that the current COVID-19 outbreak is causing financial hardship.
The latest relief package adds to the $58.3 million invested by the Schrinner Council into relief and stimulus measures, including the suite of recommendations made by the Economic Recovery Taskforce.
The Schrinner Council has also introduced a Local Buy procurement policy and a 7-day faster payments initiative which is benefiting thousands of local businesses.
“I am proud of our record when it comes to stepping in and helping Brisbane businesses, community groups and residents during this pandemic,” the Lord Mayor said.
“If the advice is right, hopefully the peak of the virus spread will be reached soon and the recovery starts.
“But this pandemic has shown time and time again that predicting any outcome is impossible so my Council stands ready to provide further relief in the future should it be required.”