Northern beaches business: COVID help on offer, but only 10 per cent have registered

TALL ORDER: UNCo owners Kelly and Craig Bartholomew, with their son Toby, 10, say their business has suffered because of the lockdowns. Picture: Dallas Kilponen
TALL ORDER: UNCo owners Kelly and Craig Bartholomew, with their son Toby, 10, say their business has suffered because of the lockdowns. Picture: Dallas Kilponen

NORTHERN beaches businesses might have struggled during and since the lockdowns, but only 10 per cent of those eligible have registered to be part of the Dine and Discover pilot.

The initiative, aimed at kick-starting the economy and targeting some of the hardest-hit industries, will see every NSW resident aged over 18 be eligible for $100 in vouchers that they can spend at participating businesses. The northern beaches was included in the pilot to help lockdown impacted businesses get back on their feet.

There's currently 1300 businesses that are eligible, but only 130 have registered so far with the program to commence later this month.

Meanwhile, hardship grants of $3000 and $5000 for struggling northern beaches businesses have received a mixed reaction, with some saying it's not enough.

Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer said the impact of the grants depend on the size of your business. "Some are so grateful because it'll just get them through to pay bills and staff wages which is great for some of the smaller businesses," she said.

Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer. Picture: Simon Bennett

Manly Business Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer. Picture: Simon Bennett

For larger businesses, she fears the grants won't make any difference with some losing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars during the lockdown. "The federal government could do more and we're going to push them to give more," she said.

While the NSW Government also announced a marketing push along with the grants, Ms Rimmer said businesses are yet to learn what the means, which industries will be targeted and when it will start. "Businesses have to plan and they need a date," she said.

Kelly Bartholomew, owner of Brookvale indoor climbing centre Umbrella Nine Co also known as UNCo, said some cash was better than nothing. "Any amount will help, but whether it's enough will depend on the business," she said.

"Our revenue was down 60 per cent on last January, and January is what sets us up for the next few months. I think the state government is in charge of the state and they mandated the lockdown so they should be helping us."

Our revenue was down 60 per cent on last January, and January is what sets us up for the next few months.

Umbrella Nine Co, also known as UNCo, owner Kelly Bartholomew

Ray Bonner, owner of Avalon business Bookoccino, said the lockdown was devastating. "I was stunned when I looked at the numbers. Ten per cent of our annual income is in the two weeks before Christmas," he said.

Mr Bonner said in many ways NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic well, but it has failed supporting businesses in the northern beaches that were impacted by the lockdown.

"I don't think she's got a lot of empathy for small businesses," he said. "I don't think they really have an understanding of small businesses, I don't know where they came up with those numbers."

Northern beaches mayor Michael Regan said the federal government should also be contributing.

"We need federal government now to step up, simple as that," he said. "We need more financial assistance, we need less talk, less criticism, less politicising and just some sensible cash grants. The state government has set the criteria which is fantastic, hopefully the federal government can see fit to support."

How I'll spend my Dine and Discover voucher

HAVE YOUR SAY: Josephine Harpur, Karen Austin, Chris Shanahan, Nick Cooper and Sarah Phillips think the vouchers will be a boost for the local economy. Pictures: Dallas Kilponen

HAVE YOUR SAY: Josephine Harpur, Karen Austin, Chris Shanahan, Nick Cooper and Sarah Phillips think the vouchers will be a boost for the local economy. Pictures: Dallas Kilponen

Josephine Harpur, Collaroy

"Anyone thinking about going out to dinner will do it if they get a boost. I think I'll go to a restaurant."

Karen Austin, Frenchs Forest

"I'll spend it on food and drink and we always go to see our friends in live music."

Chris Shanahan, Mona Vale

"We'd probably dine out, I think that would be the most likely thing."

Nick Cooper, Bilgola

"It'd probably get me back to the pub in Mona Vale or to a burger place."

Sarah Phillips, Warriewood

"I'd spend it locally in Mona Vale or in the sushi place here. It'd definitely be local."

How do I get the vouchers?

To participate you must have a MyServiceNSW account. You can download the Service NSW app now and register for a MyServiceNSW account ahead of the vouchers becoming available.

Eligible industries

  • Cafes and restaurants
  • Pubs, taverns, bars, wineries and clubs
  • Scenic and sightseeing transport
  • Cinemas
  • Museums, galleries and historic sites
  • Zoos, botanic gardens, wildlife parks and nature reserves
  • Performing arts operations, theatres and entertainment centres
  • Amusement, theme and water parks
  • Recreational activities such as go-karting, indoor climbing, mini-golf, billiards, bowling or ice rinks
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Travel agencies and tours.

Register your business at Dine and Discover.

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