Scenic Rim businesses crippled by COVID-19 Delta lockdown

STRUGGLING: Jo Sellens opened Backroads during the lockdown but the lockdown meant no customers. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
STRUGGLING: Jo Sellens opened Backroads during the lockdown but the lockdown meant no customers. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

SCENIC Rim MP Jon Krause will ask the government if the COVID-19 Delta lockdown can be lifted in the district as businesses report a major financial hit.

Business people say the lockdown is forcing closures, low foot traffic and cancellation of bookings.

As a University of Western Australia study found that Australia would need to continue to rely on hard lockdowns to control COVID-19 outbreaks until vaccination coverage topped 90 per cent, Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause said local businesses and families were suffering.

"I will be asking the government and Chief Health Officer to look at how this lockdown could be lifted in our vast region, or even part of it, ahead of the rest of SEQ that is far more densely populated," he said.

The Palaszczuk government announced $5000 payments available for small and medium businesses across Queensland affected by the lockdown but Mr Krause said it was not good enough.

"After 18 months of COVID-19, the government still hasn't got their act together," he said.

"Applications don't even open until mid-August. The package excludes businesses with turnover less than $75,000 ... the fine print means very little actual support is delivered.

"It is good to see supportive words from the government, but I'll wait and see how these measures actually help small and family businesses."

Beechmont wedding venue, Providence Farm Hall, run by Emma and Tegan McKenzie-Carter, felt the pinch even before the lockdown was extended.

"Last weekend we had a wedding booked and we had to push it forward an hour," Emma McKenzie-Carter said.

"Because the wedding party had to leave by 4pm, they have asked for a refund. A wedding booked for next weekend will have to be cancelled and potentially the wedding booked for the weekend after that.

"I can't put a number on how much this will cost us in the end."

Ms McKenzie-Carter said weddings could be rescheduled but they had bookings every weekend between now and December. She said at least four other businesses relied on weddings at the venue.

The best case scenario would see the business continue to operate after a year of rescheduling events because of the virus and investing time and money in major improvements to the property.

"We have more than 70 hectares here. What I can't understand is why it has been okay for footy players to sweat all over each other during a game but we can't have weddings when we know we can easily and safely do so," she said.

LOCKDOWN LOSS: Tegan and Emma McKenzie-Carter have suffered a financial setback at their Beechmont wedding venue. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

LOCKDOWN LOSS: Tegan and Emma McKenzie-Carter have suffered a financial setback at their Beechmont wedding venue. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

Backroads clothing on Brisbane Street was closed on Monday but reopened Tuesday, selling safety gear for tradies.

Store owner Jo Sellens said business had all but dried up.

"We do have an online shopping at backroadsbeaudesert.com.au but most of my customers do prefer to come in to the shop," she said.

VK Everydays cafe owner Toni Cooper said the lockdown had come at a cost, despite being able to open for takeaways.

"My staff, many of them young people who work less than 20 hours and are saving for things like buying their first car, are not working at the moment," she said.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said more than half a billion dollars' worth of retail trade was at risk.

"We welcome the $5000 payments for small and medium businesses announced by the Queensland government, along with the federal Covid disaster payments that'll be available," he said.

"Unfortunately, this won't fully compensate businesses for the losses they'll suffer. Businesses still have to pay their rent and staffing costs whilst their revenue plummets or stops."

Applications for grants will open from mid-August at business.qld.gov.au/supportgrant.

Small and medium businesses were defined as those with a turnover of more than $75,000 per annum and had an annual payroll in Queensland of up to $10 million.

Should lockdown rules be eased for Scenic Rim businesses?