Another COVID-19 shutdown could wipe out more than half the businesses in Braddon

Michael Weaver 14 August 2020 16

Businesses are urging the government to fast track upgrades in Braddon. Photo: Region Media.

A survey of 300 businesses in Braddon has revealed that more than half face the prospect of closure before the end of the year if another lockdown were to occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey also found that 68 per cent of businesses experienced revenue loss during restrictions of between 50 and 100 per cent, and 17 per cent continue to experience revenue loss between 50 and 100 per cent.

On the employment front, 37 per cent of businesses are operating with around 40 per cent of their usual staff.

To further support ACT businesses, the ACT Government has announced that it is extending a range of economic survival measures to help local businesses trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

JobKeeper payments will remain exempt from payroll tax, while a payroll tax waiver will be extended three months to December 2020 for businesses unable to trade, or able to trade on a very restricted basis due to ACT Government restrictions.

There are also incentives for commercial property owners affected by COVID-19 to continue to defer their rates interest-free for a further six months.

The survey was conducted by Braddon’s United Retailers and Traders (BURT) in response to the government’s $13.9 million commitment to upgrade lighting, accessibility and parking along streets in Braddon and Dickson.

Widened footpaths leading to the light rail stops, more bike racks for cyclist parking and increased lighting along Haig Park have been flagged by the ACT Government.

The first stage of works will begin in February along Lonsdale Street in Braddon between Cooyong and Girrawheen streets and is marked for completion in early 2022.

READ MORE: “Tired, outdated” parts of Braddon, Dickson get $14 million facelift

Spokesperson for BURT Kel Watt said it was imperative that the activities of business and government were in alignment or doors would close and hundreds of staff would face unemployment.

“The government’s investment in beautification is welcome in principle, but all the footpath flowerpots in the world won’t do a thing to grow revenue and staff levels back to normal if the failures of current infrastructure are not addressed,” Mr Watt said.

Mr Watt pointed to a number of urgent upgrades that could be made, with 93 per cent of Braddon businesses nominating improvements to car parking as a priority.

Upgrades to improve traffic flow, security and lighting, public toilets and loading zones were also identified as issues that needed urgent attention; however, 85 per cent of businesses were concerned upgrade works would hurt their operations.

“With the government linking upgrade work to the impacts of the coronavirus and need to help local operators, it is a no-brainer that upgrades identified by businesses should be made the priority.

“Owners and managers have said the crunch will come between now and Christmas, so the time for strategic cooperation is now,” Mr Watt said.

Braddon streets in need of repair

Businesses say upgrades are urgently needed in Braddon. Image: BURT.

The survey was released as Braddon’s landmark Rainbow Roundabout was named the international roundabout of the year by the United Kingdom’s Roundabout Appreciation Society.

There was strong business support for the roundabout at the intersection of Elouera and Lonsdale Streets to be retained, along with enhancements to a number of roundabouts in the Braddon with artwork similar to the Rainbow Roundabout to reference multiculturalism, the environment, women’s suffrage or equity issues.

Mr Watt said discussions with other Canberra businesses provided anecdotal evidence that the hardships facing Braddon are being felt across the ACT.

“Failure to get the right policy and programs in place now will see dozens of Braddon businesses wind up and their staff without jobs. If replicated elsewhere, the economic crisis will be like nothing ever seen before,” he said.

The full report of the Braddon’s United Retailers and Traders survey is on their website.

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16 Responses to Another COVID-19 shutdown could wipe out more than half the businesses in Braddon
HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:49 pm 14 Aug 20

“Mr Watt pointed to a number of urgent upgrades that could be made, with 93 per cent of Braddon businesses nominating improvements to car parking as a priority.”

If there is one part of Canberra where proximity to the tramline should have made a serious difference to car usage, this is it – Braddon, the very epicentre of the hip, Euro-style, car-free, inner-urban fantasy which clearly obsesses the ACT Government, and many of its most dogged supporters. And yet the people who see things with the clarity which comes from only making a living if people buy what you’re selling paint a somewhat different picture of reality.

Andrew Kristoffersen Andrew Kristoffersen 8:35 am 13 Aug 20

This is why ACT Health paused restriction lifting with hotspots and lockdowns in other areas, to ensure we don't end up with a sudden influx of visitors who bring the virus with them and set us all back. Canberrans have done well but need to make sure we do not become complacent as the virus is still out there.

Acton Acton 6:53 am 13 Aug 20

These government imposed restrictions are causing anxiety and distress. They are over reactions based on panicked medical advice to futilely stop a flu type virus. There has been a national, state and local government failure to balance medical advice with rational economic advice on the consequences. The fears of the minority have taken control over the rights, liberties and livelihoods of the majority.

Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 9:12 pm 12 Aug 20

I have been amazed by how adaptable buisnesses have been. I realise this was borne out of necessity but owners and staff of many buisnesses have been excellent at adapting to restructions and increasing online presence.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 2:54 am 14 Aug 20

    Exactly right and they need to be. Adapt or die. Small business is constantly being challenged in that way... and its an inherent risk that things can and do change.

David Brown David Brown 5:37 pm 12 Aug 20

They can oil their locks. Politicians and their retinue are bringing the virus very shortly. 😡

Chris Cross Chris Cross 5:29 pm 12 Aug 20

And so be it. If the Federal Government had just gone early and hard like NZ (instead of worrying about short term money), we'd be in an awesome bubble right now where these businesses would be able to trade relatively normally, without concern of having to close again and again. This is what happens when you wait and see and manage it 'on the fly', instead of going hard early and playing it better for the long game. When Liberal's can't decide even in their house what they should be doing, this prolonged economic pain is what you get. Should've locked the whole nation down for 14 days. Now the horse has bolted.

    Mark Ryan Mark Ryan 6:00 am 13 Aug 20

    Chris Cross NZ has 4 cases now and they dont know or wont say how they got in. You cant blame Feds when state premiers do their own thing.

    Allison Roesler-Vannan Allison Roesler-Vannan 7:05 am 13 Aug 20

    Auckland is in stage 4 lockdown, schools are closed and greater NZ stage 3. No strategy is perfect. No country is immune to impact.

    Peter Major Peter Major 7:45 am 13 Aug 20

    Chris Cross and they are in lock down again. With a slowly collapsing economy

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 11:04 am 13 Aug 20

    Chris Cross what is killing businesses in Canberra are the ridiculous rates! Small businesses are struggling with this for the past 5 years!! Local Government doesn’t care of it and definitely didn’t care seeing many businesses owners moving to Queanbeyan. Commercial rent is absurd! Federal Government gave incentives but unfortunately when you have rent, rates, BAS due it’s hard to survive.

    Mazzie Woodward Mazzie Woodward 10:33 pm 13 Aug 20

    Chris Cross and so be it... wow! People work so hard to open a business, they save, borrow money, take risks, remortgage homes. And for what, to provide employment and a service/product all the while staying up late doing accounts, making plans, coming up with ideas. These people aren’t just loosing businesses, it’s a dream, a goal, an inspiration. Let me guess... career public servant are we?

    Sharee Schultz Sharee Schultz 10:41 pm 13 Aug 20

    Chris Cross states organise their restrictions, not federal 🙄

    Look at Victoria!

    Also, no government can control stupid people who don’t listen to the recommendations.

Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 4:31 pm 12 Aug 20

How about a different perspective. Perhaps businesses wouldn't be at risk if people, generally, weren't so selfish when it comes to social distancing, mask usage where appropriate and, more specifically, staying home and isolating when not feeling well and/or staying home while awaiting covid test results?

It isn't the business's fault when they get caught in a lockdown because people are not following warnings and instructions.

Isn't it clear that NO ONE is immune at this point to catching and spreading the virus?

Just look at the latest NSW town (Huskisson) that had visitors from Sydney who now tested positive. What about the builder who caused three hotels in Newcastle to close after he showed a positive result? People lying on declarations when trying to go interstate?

Until all that stops and people totally understand the risks to others, businesses will continue to be at risk.

Arety Kr Arety Kr 3:06 pm 12 Aug 20

Yeah coz they are paying a kidney in rent!

bj_ACT bj_ACT 11:49 am 12 Aug 20

I think these issues are happening right across Canberra business. Braddon still seems to be getting a lot more patronage and a lot more ACT government support than other retail areas of Canberra.

I wonder how some of the businesses in the outer parts of canberra are travelling? Much worse than Braddon from what I’ve seen.

The new food area in Woden is dead compared to pre Covid times and parts of Tuggeranong seemed to have shut up shop (maybe for good).

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