Help is available from all three levels of government for businesses, employers and employees affected by coronavirus. This information is updated regularly.
Beware of business scams
Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of the spread of coronavirus to exploit and play on the fears of consumers and businesses across Australia. Scams include impersonating government authorities and legitimate traders, using fake emails or text messages to try and obtain personal data, and investment scams.
- Visit the Scamwatch website for more information on coronavirus scams and tips on how to protect your business online.
Restrictions on non-essential services
As part of the Australian Government's social distancing measures, a wide range of non-essential business activities are now restricted.
- View details of the current restrictions on non-essential services and business activities by type (prohibited activities and exceptions).
Australian Government support
The Australian Government's coronavirus information and support web page is updated regularly with announcements and assistance package information. The Government's business contact centre is staffed from 7am until 11pm: 13 28 46
The Australian Treasury is leading the economic response to the coronavirus
Assistance available from the Federal Government for businesses includes:
- Jobkeeper payment to support employees and businesses through the outbreak: A payment of $1,500 per employee per fortnight is available to eligible businesses over the next six months with the Job Keeper package.
- Boosting cash flow for employers: Payments of up to $100,000 available to small to medium-sized businesses, charities and not-for-profits.
- Backpackers and work visa holders: Information about changes to visa requirements and rules related to Covid-19 can be found at the Department of Home Affairs.
- Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses is available in the form of a temporary increase in the minimum threshold for creditors issuing a statutory demand on a company.
- Wage subsidies to support apprentices and trainees: from early April, people who employ an apprentice or trainee may be eligible to register for a wage subsidy for 50 per cent of the trainee's wages.
- Commercial leases: The Government has initiated a code of conduct to help landlords and tenants make 'good faith' arrangements for commercial leases, allowing for rent deferrals and reductions. Proportional rent reductions will be based on the tenant’s decline in turnover, therefore sharing burden between landlords and tenants. More information is available in the Prime Minister's April 7 update.
- Casual workers and people experiencing financial hardship who are affected by Covid-19 may be eligible for a Centrelink payment or a one-off crisis payment.
- Sole traders and households affected by the coronavirus crisis may be able to access income support for individuals in the coming six months. Several forms of income support payments are available.
- Meeting obligations about superannuation payments: More information about superannuation for employers is available from the Australian Taxation Office.
- Assisting with economic recovery: Two key business investment measures to stimulate economic growth and encourage recovery include increasing the instant asset write-off and the backing business investment incentive.
- Early access to superannuation might be possible in very limited circumstance.
Queensland Government support and information
The Queensland Government is updating information about assistance packages through its Business Queensland pages. You will find information here about the following:
- Leasing dispute resolution: A Queensland Small Business Commissioner will be appointed to give small businesses a single point of contact for leasing disputes during recovery from the impact of COVID-19.
- Border closures, business, industry and FIFO workers: Find out how border closures might affect your business.
- Prohibited activities and venues: Comprehensive and up-to-date information detailing prohibited activities and venues that are affected by public health directives.It also includes exceptions that currently apply.
- Support to retain employees and maintain operations. Applications are available for Job Support Loans from the Queensland Government.
- Assisting manufacturers who are having difficulties accessing vital supplies. Manufacturers with supply chain difficulties are encouraged to complete the supply matching request form. Suppliers that are able to meet the needs of businesses seeking vital materials and supplies can register their capability and capacity on the Queensland Government’s dedicated ICN Gateway page.
- Retraining and transition: Have you lost your job or income and want to find out the government's commitment to retraining, job-matching and transition?
- Payroll tax relief: Are you an employer who pays $6.5 million or less in Australian taxable wages who needs payroll tax relief?
- Critical supply chain partners: Are you an agriculture, food, and fishing exporter or a critical supply chain partner? Find out more about market diversification and resilience grants.
- Planning and mentoring: Do you need tailored support including financial mentoring and business planning?
- Pandemic risk management: A resource about pandemic risk management for businesses.
Council has announced a series of measures to assist businesses and generate employment in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.Council has granted due date extensions on rates and water bills for all residents and businesses, and these do not require any application. Key aspects of the Council's assistance and relief packages include:
- three-month extension on a range of business-related fees and charges
- waiving of all outdoor dining fees for three months (April to June)
- water usage bill due dates (for businesses and residents) extended for three months
- pumping $2.5 million into the Cairns community in the next three months by bringing forward maintenance works
- fast-tracking of projects in the city:
- The building of a rock wall minimise erosion on the Esplanade
- Renewal of the plaza area between the Lagoon and the Esplanade
- Renewal of footpaths on Abbott, Grafton and McLeod streets
- Replacement of commercial water metres and water main
- Road rehabilitation and asphalt overlays
- waiving of rental payments for lessees of Council owned and/or managed facilities negatively impacted by the coronavirus.
Links for job seekers
- The Federal Government has created a Jobs Hub to help people find advertised vacancies.
- Queensland Government's Jobs Finder website has been set up to connect qualified recruitment agencies and Queensland people whose employment has been affected by Covid-19.
- Queensland Health is calling for expressions of interest from health professionals and administrators to work during its response to Covid-19.
- Harvesting work may be available in Far North Queensland. Check here for availability.
Training webinars for small business
TAFE North are offering free interactive workshops (online webinars) designed for small businesses in Far North and North Queensland who are currently or may be impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Read more, check your eligibility and register at the TAFE Financial Resilience Webinars page.
The Australian Government also presents free webinars to help business owners and managers minimize their risks and manage their business through the COVID-19 disruption.
- View upcoming webinars and register online at business.gov.au.
Innovate Queensland is offering workshops about pivoting business models and virtual business platforms for Covid-19.
- Check the schedule and find events at the Innovate Queensland website.
Other resources for businesses
- Dive centres in Cairns seeking advice on returning to operations should email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the relevant regional manager.
- As more people begin working from home, NBN Co has made changes to data allowances, waived additional wholesale capacity charges and created a blog, FAQs and tips to support people transitioning out of the office.
- The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland has compiled resources to support its members including access to free software and tools to move business online.
- Cairns Regional Council has a Takeaway and deliveries fact sheet ( PDF, 0.66 MB ) with handy tips to help Fixed Food Business licence holders minimise the risks should they choose to offer takeaway and/or delivery.
- Restaurant and Catering Australia also has information sheets and resources, including fact sheets about takeaway and pre-packaged meals.
- Safe Work Australia has information and resources about health and safety in the workplace and Covid-19, including working from home, supporting mental health, and information for small businesses about what to do if an employee contracts coronavirus.