The Barrel Collective temporarily closes its doors amid COVID chaos | The Examiner

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The state government has hit back at claims it is not doing enough for small businesses. After rising COVID-19 numbers have resulted in a significant decrease in revenue for many institutions, some have begun entertaining the idea of closing their doors, while one Launceston bar has opted to do exactly that. Brisbane Street establishment The Barrel Collective yesterday became the first Launceston-based business to announce it had temporarily ceased operating as a direct result of COVID. READ MORE: Firearm discharged overnight in Launceston area Owner Michael Bernhagen said the decision to close was due to staff being considered close contacts, as well as one testing positive to the virus. Mr Bernhagen said the small boutique bar would be shut until at least Thursday, at which time he and his staff members would be subject to further testing. “It’s pretty annoying … no one ever has the right amount of money set aside to be able to just shut the doors and walk away,” he said. “It’s manageable at the moment, but if it keeps going on and on then something needs to happen,” he said. “We have limited staff, through restrictions halving our occupancy, and couldn’t work around this.” READ MORE: Face masks for students under consideration before school year starts Following the announcement, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Small Business, Janie Finlay, appeared at the Quadrant Mall yesterday, where she called on the government to reinstate support packages for business operators as COVID numbers continue to rise. “With 97 per cent of Tasmanian businesses classified as small business, many of whom are sole operators, the government must act quickly to ensure that impacted Tasmanians are supported,” she said. “The program is there and it has been used previously … surely it’s a no-brainer for the government to once again provide this critical support.” READ MORE: COVID-19 disrupts Launceston Magistrates Court Ms Finlay was joined by small business operator, Sarah Jordan-Ross, who said her multi-service massage therapy company has been greatly impacted by the fear and uncertainty the spread of the omicron variant has induced since the re-opening of Tasmania’s borders. Ms Jordan-Ross said the business was struggling to cope with people not showing up for appointments and a build-up of last minute cancelations. “We had 53 cancellations last month, and since re-opening this year, we’ve had seven,” she said. “With the first shutdown we had JobKeeper and business support grants, and that really helped us get through … but this time they’re lacking.” READ MORE: Whistleblower’s fight for compensation continues three decades later Liberal’s Small Business Minister, Jane Howlett, responded by reminded the public that grants between $750 and $1,500 were still available for financial or business guidance services from qualified specialists to assist small businesses in formulating strategies to overcome the impacts of COVID-19. “We have provided nation-leading support throughout the pandemic, including than $160 million in COVID-19 specific support programs,” she said. “As we have always said, the Tasmanian Government is actively communicating with small businesses and will consider further support if required. Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said the majority of businesses affected right now were those whose workforce were in isolation, many of whom, he believed, would be returning to work over the next week. “When that does happen we should begin to see an easing of some of the pressure that small businesses have been feeling lately,” he said. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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