Standing in solidarity: Leaders' update on COVID-19 crisis
The city's leaders stood in solidarity on Monday morning to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. State and local representatives will be hosting press conferences twice a week to provide an update of measures being implemented, the latest impacts on the region and actions that residents themselves need to take. Mayor Col Murray said they would be hosting an extraordinary meeting in the coming days to discuss initiatives council can implement to provide financial relief. "That work is being put together as we speak," he said.
Staff have released a draft of the proposal to be put to council, but there could be updates before the meeting.
At the moment, the proposed concepts include:
Waiving of fees for small business
Initiatives for ratepayers
Flexible enforcement and compliance
Development application fee refunds
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said further support and assistance had been rolled out by the state government. "There is significant discussion and plans being put in place in regards to a job-keeper allowance which will be $1500 a fortnight which will enable businesses to continue to employ their workers ... even if they are stood down," he said. "That is something that will be brought in very shortly. "In addition to that, the rental assistance from a business perspective as well as a domestic rental ... we are encouraging businesses, we are encouraging landlords, and we are encouraging banks to talk about the current situation we are in, and we are asking everybody to come together." Mr Anderson said banks should be the "shock-absorber" during this crisis as they have the "fat in the system" to withstand this. He added there was a moratorium on evictions for COVID-19 reasons introduced. Mr Anderson said it was essential for people to follow the new two-person gathering limit. "If you are over 70, do not leave your house," he said. "If you have a concern, please contact my office." Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer encouraged businesses to get into touch with the chamber to discover what parts of the stimulus package and other support measures they can access. Mr Segboer said the job-keeper allowance would be a relief for employers and employees alike. "For our local area, the amount that is being offered is certainly substantial enough for the average income earner," he said. Mr Segboer said it was critical for businesses to plan for the next six months at least and take advantage of all possible financial assistance. He added that some businesses might not make it to the other side, but if landlords and tenants work together, the economy will come out strong on the other side. Mr Segboer said the chamber had begun conversations with TRC to reduce rates. "At this point in time, we are looking at all measures that we can do," he said. "We have been talking to the state government around what might be in place in the future, in regards to not just payroll tax but also workers compensation. "If you are not employing people at the moment, you are still obliged to make compensation payments, so we need to look at all different measures, and we will continue to work with and represent the business community." Mr Segboer said the recovery period following the crisis is likely to be about 18 months. On a positive note, Mr Segboer said it was incredible to see how some shops were adapting to remain open but be responsible and safe when it comes to social distancing. Superintendent Kylie Endemi, the Commander Oxley Police District, said police have already been cracking down on those who breach public health orders. "Sadly, over the weekend, we did see the issuing of penalty infringement notices to two persons within our community," she said. "What police is seeing while we are out in our community being highly visible is that there has been an increase in compliance in relation to social distancing. "I thank everyone for doing that. We remain strong, and we remain ready to act." Superintendent Endemi said the incident on the weekend demonstrates that police will penalise those doing the wrong thing. "It is not a time for complacency, and police are certainly not going to be complacent," she said. Murray Russell, Local Emergency Management officer, said the committee is meeting every second day. "We have had confirmation from Health, just this morning, that the health services are well prepared for the COVID-19 arrival in Tamworth and the gradual escalation of numbers," he said. "They are currently coping with the situation very well, and we will continue to monitor that."