Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information and Updates

At Murray Regional Tourism, we’re closely monitoring the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and its impacts on the region’s tourism industry. We’re working together with state and federal agencies to ensure the Murray region is supported during the unprecedented circumstances facing the industry.

To help our industry partners through this extremely challenging time, we will continue to share information and updates as they become available.

Business information (see below for Government support)

Australian Government – Business information
Includes restrictions on non-essential services, continuing your business, tax support, coronavirus and mental health, coronavirus scams and travelling for work. Businesses impacted by the coronavirus can also phone the Australian Government Business Support Hotline on 13 28 46 (7.00 am to 11.00 pm AEST, 7 days a week).

NSW Government Small Business Commissioner – COVID-19 (Coronavirus): information for small business owners
Includes trading restrictions, financial support, employer obligations, managing employee leave, protecting yourself, managing employee leave, your employees and your customers and dispute resolution.

Business Victoria – Dealing with coronavirus
Includes business restrictions, financial support, business continuity and recovery plans, what should you tell your staff and can your business run events.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – COVID19 (Coronavirus) resources for business
Includes business closures, government economic survival packages, workplace impacts, financial impacts, trade and export assistance.

CPA Australia – Tips for Small Business to prepare for COVID-19
Includes tips on stock management, debtors management, creditors management, spending, cashflow and asset management.

Cancellations

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – COVID-19 (coronavirus) information for consumers
Includes information about consumer rights in regards to travel changes and cancellations and event cancellations.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – COVID-19 (coronavirus) information for small business
Includes the latest information on the rights and obligations of small business in response to events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is updated regularly as new guidance becomes available.

NSW Fair Trading – Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs on consumer and business rights
Includes information about event cancellations, travel cancellations, pricing and price gouging, availability of ordered and / or stock items and cash payments.

Consumer Affairs Victoria – Travel and event arrangements

The following advice has been provided by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

What happens if my domestic clients choose to cancel due to COVID-19?  Can I claim cancellation costs?

To answer this question, it is useful to think of two scenarios.  In the first example, the health authorities have issued explicit advice, under the State of Emergency declaration, restricting non-essential travel to your area.  Such an instance would trigger a ‘frustrated contract’ under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, which means it is impossible to perform or carry out a contract due to events beyond all parties’ control.

In this scenario, the customer would be entitled to a refund of any payments already made.  However, the law may also entitle you to any reasonable expenses you incurred before the customer cancelled.

If there are no restrictions on domestic travel and your business is still operating, the contract is still valid and your cancellation policy can be applied.

The best solution in both these circumstances is to talk to the customer to negotiate alternative arrangements.  For example, hold the deposit over to be used at a different time.  This is a frequently used strategy by tourism operators who have been through a crisis – a postponement or a deferment of a booking means you can hold onto the deposit at a time when every dollar counts.

This advice should be read in conjunction with Consumer Affairs Victoria’s online factsheet:
Consumer Affairs Victoria – When customer cancel: guidance for tourism businesses

The following are some suggestions to help manage cancellations:

  • Set up an answering machine to refer customers to your cancellation policy on your website.
  • Be proactive in your communication with existing bookings. Show you care and understand their concerns.
  • Maintain your relationship with existing customers by communicating with them. Existing customers are more likely to support you once the crisis is over.  It is much easier to encourage existing customers to return than to attract new customers. The tourism marketing space is going to be extremely competitive once the crisis is over.
  • Make sure policies are clear and current. Publish your cancellation policy on your website and booking confirmation to make it easy for customers to find information.
  • Most customers want to do the right thing, but they too may be struggling financially due to job losses or reduced hours. We are all in this together and it is important and a legal requirement to follow your cancellation policy.
  • Offer credit towards a future booking. Review whether current credit terms are adequate in light of the changing situation. A 6 month credit may not be long enough, consider offering 12 months or more.

Export

Export Finance Australia
Australian exporters impacted by coronavirus may be eligible for business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia

Financial hardship support

Australian Banking Association – Financial difficulty
Australian banks will defer loan repayments for six months for small businesses who need assistance because of COVID-19.  They are also offering loans, including overdrafts, with no repayments for the first six months, at very low interest rates, supported by the Government, through the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Loan guarantee program. Other assistance can include fees waived, loans restructured, and further credit offered to get through the pandemic.  Speak with your bank to find out if you are eligible.Government support packages

Government support

Commonwealth Government support

Australian Government Business – Support for sole traders
Includes JobKeeper Payment, the increased instant asset write-off, Backing Business Investment (BBI), increased and accelerated income support, assistance for affected regions, communities and industries, SME (small medium enterprises) Guarantee Scheme, early access to superannuation and tax support.

Australian Government Business – Support for employers
Includes JobKeeper Payment, booking cash flow for employers, assistance to help pay the wages of apprentices or trainees, casual employees and employer obligations (health and safety and super guarantee payments).

Australian Government Business – Support for companies
Includes JobKeeper Payment, temporary relief for financially distressed businesses, the increased instant asset write-off, accelerated depreciation deduction arrangements, increased and accelerated income support, assistance for affected regions, communities and industries, tax support and Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Guarantee Scheme.

Australian Government Business – Support for businesses
Includes boosting cash flow for employers, temporary relief for financially distressed businesses, increasing the instant asset write-off, Backing Business Investment and supporting apprentices and trainees.

Australian Government Coronavirus (COVID-19 Updates

Australian Tax Office – COVID-19
Includes support for businesses and employers, individuals and employees and other support options. Businesses impacted by coronavirus can also phone the Australian Tax Office Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for assistance.

NSW Government support

NSW Small Business Commissioner – COVID-19 (Coronavirus): information for small business owners
Includes waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for six months, bringing forward the next round of payroll tax cuts, waiving a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies and deferral of gaming machine tax for clubs, pubs and hotels for six months.

Service NSW – Business Concierge
For personalised advice on the NSW and federal government financial support, phone the Service NSW Business Concierge on 13 77 88.

Victorian Government support

Victorian Government State Revenue Office – Tax relief for eligible businesses
Includes payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million, payroll tax deferrals, waiver of 2020 renewable liquor licensing fees for affected venues and small businesses and deferral of 2020 land tax payment.

Victorian Government – Business Support Fund
Funding of $10,000 per business is available and will be allocated through a grant process. Small businesses are eligible if they employ staff, have been subject to closure or are highly impacted by Victoria’s Non-Essential Activity Directions issued by the Deputy Chief Health Officer to-date, have a turnover of more than $75,000 and payroll of less than $650,000. Applications close Monday 1 June 2020.

Victorian Government – Economic Survival and Jobs Package
Register your interest for the Victorian Government Economic Survival and Jobs Package. As part of a $1.7 billion economic survival package, the Victorian Government has announced $500 million to establish a Business Support Fund to assist small to medium businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Victorian Government – Working for Victoria
Register to receive more information about the Working for Victoria initiative. Under the Working for Victoria Fund, displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different types of work. This presents opportunities for paid work and an opportunity to contribute to Victoria’s ability to manage this event and support the community.

Business Victoria – Business Support Hotline
Businesses can now access information on dealing with COVID-19 by phoning the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

Grants

Facebook Small Business Grant
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where they operate, including Australia. The program can help keep your workforce going strong, help with your rent costs, connect with more customers and cover operational costs. They will begin taking applications in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can sign up to receive more information when it becomes available.

Health information

Commonwealth Government

Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Health Alert
The Australian Government’s official source of health information regarding the coronavirus. Includes how to protect yourself and others, symptoms and when to get tested and what to do if you’re concerned.

Download the official government app from the Apple App Store or Google Play

Access the official government WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.

Australian Government Coronavirus (COVID-19 Updates

New South Wales Government

NSW Government Health COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
The NSW Government’s official source of health information regarding the coronavirus.

Victorian Government

Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
The Victorian Government’s official source of health information regarding the coronavirus.

Emergency Management Victoria
The Victorian Government’s lead agency for emergency management. Download the VicEmergency app to your smartphone to receive updates.

Health information for the travel, transport and hotel industries

Australian Government Department of Health – Information for travel, transport and hotel industries
The Australian Government’s official source of information for the travel, transport and hotel industries.

Media enquiries

There are several business owners across the Murray region specifically trained in crisis media management and are our official media spokespeople in the event of a crisis. If you are approached to speak to the media, we recommend you contact Murray Regional Tourism for guidance.

It’s important to remember that the state and federal government health departments are the official spokespeople for matters related to health and confirmed cases.

Mental health support

Australian Government Department of Health – Head to Health

Beyond Blue – Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Lifeline – Mental health during the Coronvirus COVID-19 outbreak

Restricted activities

Australian Government – Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups
Includes information regarding non-essential gatherings, restricted facilities and limits on essential gatherings.

NSW Public Health – (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020
Includes information about closure of caravan parks and camping grounds.

Victorian Government – Stay at Home and Restricted Activities directions

Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning – Caravan parks and camping ground closures

Tourism industry organisation resources

Tourism Australia

Destination New South Wales

Visit Victoria

Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC)
VTIC is waiving fees for their In the Loop and Essentials membership programs until 31 December 2020 and providing additional services including training credit to courses provided by the Victorian Chamber.

Tourism industry newsletters

Subscribe to tourism industry newsletters to stay informed of the latest updates.

Tourism Australia

Destination New South Wales

Visit Victoria

Training

Business NSW Events

Small  Business Victoria Workshops and Events

TAFE NSW (including fee free short courses)

Tourism Accelerator Tourism Bootcamp

Tourism Tribe Upskill During Lockdown

Workplace safety

Safe Work Australia COVID-19 – Information for workplaces
Includes important information for industries including hospitality (including accommodation) and retail that addresses duties under WHS laws, risk assessment, COVID-19 in your workplace, health monitoring, physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as a useful resource kit featuring downloadable fact sheets, posters, infographics and guidance materials for businesses to use in the workplace such as a social distancing checklist, incident notification processes and ‘5 things to do in your workplace’.

NSW Government Safe Work NSW – Coronavirus: advice for NSW workplaces
Includes advice and recommendations and working from home.

Worksafe Victoria – Infectious diseases
Includes preparing for a pandemic and working from home.