COVID-19 Update 26 March 2020
The public support from the Minister for Agriculture, Water and Emergency Services David Littleproud for the agriculture industry, and its need to keep running is welcome. This has also been echoed by a number of other State Minster’s. We continue to work with the Government to determine what essential services are to keep the grape and wine sector running.
It is critical that we can finish this vintage, so we are in a position to capitalise on the economic recovery that will start in China. Although, demand there will naturally be lessened due to the fact that many Chinese have been without pay for several months, but it is clear a China recovery will drive the rest of the world’s recovery. We must ensure we have the stock and logistics capacity to supply this increased demand when it comes. This will also drive our domestic recovery.
As on-premise outlets for alcohol are closed down or restricted, many of our small winemakers are under extreme cash flow pressure. We are also trying to develop options to support these businesses, beyond tax relief. Many of the general measures put in place to help small businesses are applicable for our sector. We have tried to make these as clear as possible on our web page.
We have been inundated with requests on guidance for how to operate under the current conditions and what measures to take if a COVID-19 positive employee is detected within your operation. We have discussed this with, and provided input to, the AWRI who are currently preparing such guidance and we expect this in the next few days.
The Australian Tax Office is available to support all grape and wine businesses throughout the COVID-19 Crisis.
State Government updates
New South Wales
Further restrictions on gatherings were announced on 24 March 2020. This includes dining-in at food courts, outdoor and indoor markets.
Winery and vineyard operations remain open, as do Cellar Doors (for sales of packaged wine for consumption off-premise only. https://preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19
There are a number of business incentives for NSW Businesses, especially to do with savings on payroll tax: https://preview.nsw.gov.au/news/health-boost-and-economic-stimulus
Queensland has also closed its borders, with the following exemption:
A person who is an employee of a construction, commercial fishing, manufacturing, mining, energy or agribusiness employee whose company or service provider has a plan to manage preventing the transmission of COVID-19 amongst its employees and the community, and the plan complies with the requirements specified by the Chief Health Officer.
Information is available on financial assistance, eligibility and timing for the Australian Government’s support for businesses. This includes:
- Cashflow assistance providing $25,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $2,000 or eligible businesses
- Increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million)
- Backing Business Investment (BBI) - a 15 month incentive to support business investment and economic growth over the short-term, by accelerating depreciation deductions
Click here to read more about Supporting Business in South Australia.
Today, the Minister for Primary Industries and Water said agriculture jobs and food production and supply are essential services, and the Tasmanian government will ensure food production and supply within Tasmania during the coronavirus crisis.
While a direction for non-essential business closure was signed on 23 March 2020, this does not affect Victorian grape and wine businesses. Grape and wine businesses are classified as agriculture and therefore are deemed essential business.
Click here for support for Victorian businesses affected by coronavirus
Today, Shadow Minister for Small Business Alyssa Hayden called for an immediate exemption for wineries and local producers from the latest liquor restrictions.
Australian Grape & Wine has briefed the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Water and Emergency Services on the West Australian Government’s changes to takeaway alcohol, drawing his attention to the damage it will cause the WA industry in preparation for his upcoming meeting with State Agriculture Ministers.
The West Australian Government has implemented temporary changes to takeaway alcohol. From 25 March 2020, and in consultation with the WA Police Commissioner, the WA Government has introduced new temporary restrictions on takeaway alcohol across the State.
The new restrictions came into effect yesterday Wednesday, 25 March 2020. The new restrictions will be introduced for a two-week period, and will be extended or altered at any time if necessary. Existing takeaway restrictions in particular communities will remain in place.
Under the changes, takeaway alcohol will be limited to the following amounts, per customer, each day:
· one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits; or
· three bottles of wine; or
· one litre of spirits; or
· one litre of fortified wine; or
· A combination of any two of the above (but not a combination of two of the same product).