The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has pleaded with the state government to allow businesses to start operating at full capacity, following suggestions that 90 per cent of businesses have suffered a drop in sales and revenue projections as a result of the strict restrictions.
The Queensland Premier has been adamant that the lockdowns haven’t caused financial hardship, but a new Suncorp-CCIQ Pulse survey has revealed the opposite.
According to the survey, if business projections are realised, the turnover of small businesses could collapse by up to $27 billion during the June quarter.
CCIQ’s predictions add salt to the $13 billion wound that was the lost revenues by Queensland businesses reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier last week.
The combined impact is tipped to be particularly devastating for businesses in the accommodation and hospitality, tourism and retail industries, where COVID-19 restrictions, including the ongoing border closures, have severely inhibited their ability to operate.
As a result, CCIQ’s general manager of advocacy and policy, Amanda Rohan, has urged the government to ease restrictions now, allowing businesses to operate at their “fullest capacity”.
“The Premier has stated a border review is scheduled at the end of the month, but why can’t that review be brought forward, enabling an exact date of reopening the borders to be set?” Ms Rohan said.
“And while that review is taking place, we want to see an immediate easing of the 20 persons limit per section/per venue and allow businesses to operate under the COVID safe 4sqm instead.
“This will give businesses the capacity to welcome more people back into their business, giving them a chance to survive. At the moment, they are operating on the thinnest of margins due to the limit on patron numbers.”
Ms Rohan has argued that having patron limits is unviable for many businesses.
“It is causing more financial strain and stress on businesses and putting more at risk of closing, which will see more staff out of work and in the unemployment line,” she said.
Ms Rohan also pointed to an anomality in the government’s approach, noting that while Queenslanders can travel across the state, booking a restaurant for lunch or dinner is near impossible due to the limit on patron numbers.
“While it is encouraging to see many places are booked for their sitting times, they are missing revenue because of those they cannot accommodate. This is holding back business recovery,” Ms Rohan said.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison exerted some pressure on states, urging them to open their borders in July.
“Get planes flying again,” Mr Morrison said, explaining that this is not a partisan issue but one about economic recovery.
Following the PM’s statement, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has conceded she will consider reopening Queensland on the back of a successful health response.
“I have made it absolutely clear that we will be looking at that at the end of the month as we enter stage three,” Ms Palaszczuk told media.
“We are seeing a fantastic health response here in Queensland.”