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Debilitating COVID-19 fines on small business must be waived

With the easing of restrictions coming into force at midnight tonight, I congratulate Victorians for their sacrifice and commitment to combating the pandemic.

It has been an exceptionally tough few months, particularly for Melbourne’s 5 million residents.  The financial and mental health toll has been profound.

Across Melbourne, pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops can re-open, albeit with severe restrictions, but the 25 kilometre ‘ring of steel’ remains until 9 November 2020, meaning Melburnians continue to be cut off from regional Victoria which is so dependent on the Melbourne economy.

Despite the progress and the incredible job of Victorians, we have a long way to go before we get our freedom back.  This is not a time for ‘top shelf’ celebrations for many Victorians who, rather than reaching for the whisky, are struggling to put cornflakes on the table.

There is a real fear that many businesses may never re-open. With so few patrons allowed inside hospitality venues, the viability of many larger Melbourne hotels and restaurants is still under threat.

Today, I call on Premier Andrews to waive the terrible $10,000 fines imposed on a number of small businesses including men’s clothing retailer, Harry Hutchinson, of Berwick. These fines are not just disproportionate but crippling.

Despite support from the Morrison Government of some $200 million a day flowing into Victoria, 1,200 Victorians are currently losing their job each day.

As part of our State’s economic revival and our move to a COVID normal Australia, Victoria needs to get its contact tracing house in order so that hotspots are contained at a local level when they arise – as happens in NSW – without resorting to shutting down the economy.

27 October 2020

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