Businesses across NSW are confused and frustrated over a lack of clarity surrounding the possible return to normal operations, threatening to defy the government’s social distancing measures. These reactions were sparked by the recent large gatherings in close proximity for protest rallies and the announcement that NRL fans will be allowed back in stadiums shortly.
A Sydney venue group has accused the NSW state government of discrimination, noting that while protestors were permitted to gather in the tens of thousands, weddings are still being capped at 20 people.
Taking to social media, CEO of Navarra Venues Sal Navarra said he has decided to reopen his venues, following months of forced closure.
“We are reopening for any numbers. Yes, we will be putting in the social distancing idea, with hand sanitiser… We don’t want to deal with upset brides and upset clients anymore,” Mr Navarra said.
Standing side by side with outraged businesses, Business NSW has questioned the state government’s recent decisions.
The body’s chief executive stressed that the business community has done everything they have been asked to do by the government since the pandemic began, and in many cases at great personal cost.
“Business owners see tens of thousands of people gather in close proximity for protest rallies and plans to allow crowds to attend NRL matches are unveiled, yet many businesses can’t open their doors due to the ongoing restrictions imposed on them,” said Business NSW chief executive Stephen Cartwright.
“No one is more excited about getting back to watch the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval than I am, but how is it that some businesses can’t even open or can barely cover their costs due to restrictions, yet the government and the NSW Police stood by while thousands marched without social distancing and they are now toying with the idea of letting thousands attend football matches?”
He opined that as a result of social distancing measures, many businesses have “gone to the wall”.
“Most business owners have had to lay off staff as well as make do without any income for themselves, and they’ve accepted that this enormous sacrifice was the cost of keeping each other safe and getting to the other side of this global health crisis. They even accepted that anyone caught doing the wrong thing would receive a fine as a way to reinforce the rules,” Mr Cartwright said.
“It now seems that ‘all bets are off’. If that’s the case, then it’s time to let all businesses reopen to full capacity, get the economy moving again and get thousands of people across NSW re-employed.”
Warning that the true impact of this crisis will come when the various stimulus packages cease in September, Mr Cartwright urged the government to give business owners the “best chance” possible to survive before “we get to that economic cliff”.
“That means giving business owners some clarity about when and how they can reopen,” he said.
“There cannot be one rule for protestors and footy fans and another for the business community.
“It’s no wonder many businesses are re-evaluating whether they want to reopen at all.”