Weekly Digest – 16 February 2022

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Booster Shots Now Required To Be Fully Vaccinated

Australians will need to receive booster shots to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, although authorities said foreign travellers will continue to need only two shots to enter the country. If you haven’t received a booster within six months of your second dose, your vaccination status will be considered “overdue”.

Borders to Reopen to International Travel

The borders will be reopened to vaccinated tourists and other visa holders from 21 February. Unvaccinated travellers who have a medical reason for not getting inoculated will need to apply for a travel exemption and will be required to quarantine at a hotel.

Safe Transition Industry Support Package

The WA Government has launched a $77 million Safe Transition Industry Support Package to assist eligible businesses and individuals in sectors most affected by the decision to delay the full reopening of WA’s borders. It includes nine support programs for the international education, tourism, aviation and events sectors.

Career Foundation for Young Australians

The Australian Retail Association’s (ARA) Retail Ready Youth PaTH-Way Program offers retail-specific training leading into employment for 200 jobs seekers aged between 15 and 24. The ARA program is an innovative partnership between the retail industry and the Australian government.

Uncertainty Over Jobs Data

Some uncertainty remains around key labour force data for January due to the impact of the Omicron variant. The Reserve Bank of Australia and the federal government are both predicting the jobless rate to fall below 4% this year, a level not seen in about half a century.

Supply Chain Issues Likely to Continue

While COVID-19 cases are dropping, retailers have warned supply chain issues are expected to continue for up to 18 months. This is due to the international shipping crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of freight space on ships, shipping containers, and pallets.

NSW Unveils $1 Billion Support Package for Businesses

The New South Wales government has unveiled a $1 billion support package for small- and medium-sized businesses hit by the Omicron outbreak.

However, the payment will be capped at half of what was offered during the Delta wave in 2021, after the federal government refused to split the cost of the package.

The package will provide a payment of 20% of weekly payroll costs to businesses that can prove at least a 40% decline in turnover across January. Payments would range from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $5,000 a week.

Rapid Antigen Tests Now Free for Some Australians

Individuals who hold any of the following concession cards can access up to 10 free rapid tests from pharmacies over the next three months:

  • Pensioner concession card
  • Commonwealth seniors health care card
  • DVA gold, white or orange card
  • Health care card
  • Low-income card

If you fit the criteria, you need to visit your local pharmacy in person to get your free tests, or your carer or guardian can do it for you.

Eligibility Criteria for Tourism, Hospitality and Gym Grant in SA Extended

The South Australian government has announced the eligibility criteria for its Tourism, Hospitality and Gym Grant will be extended to include newer businesses that began operating after December 2020.

The payment will be:

  • $3,000 (for employing businesses) or $1,000 (for non-employing businesses);
  • Additional $1,000 for CBD businesses;
  • Additional $7,000 for tourism, hospitality and other eligible businesses with turnover above $2 million;
  • Additional top-up equivalent to automatic payment for businesses that did not receive the automatic payment.

The grant is automatically paid to businesses that have received a COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Support Grant or those that received an additional COVID-19 Business Support Grant. You can check for more available grants here.

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

People who are forced out of work to isolate due to being infected or being a close contact are eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

You are also eligible if you are caring for a child under 16 years old who is a close contact or infected, or someone with a disability or a severe medical condition who is a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

The payment was initially given in the form of a $750 lump sum payment for seven days. However, this changed slightly from 18 January into a tiered system. While it remains a lump sum payment, those who lose over 20 hours of work will receive the full $750, but if you lose between 8 and 20 hours, you will only receive $450.

A financial hardship test has also been introduced, which means anyone with $10,000 available and accessible to them will not get the payment.

You can find more information about Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment conditions specific to your state or territory here.

Support for Small Businesses

If your business is struggling, the ATO offers a wide range of support for those affected by the pandemic, natural disasters, mental health issues, or financial difficulties.

Learn more about the available support, and the small business debt helpline for free, independent advice.

Webinars to Help You Become More Efficient with Tax and Super

The ATO will be offering two webinars this January and February to help you streamline processes and manage your tax and super online.

These sessions will teach you the ins and outs of GST, pay as you go withholding, pay as you go instalments, how to lodge your tax returns, and more. Need expert help with your tax and super? Get in touch with us today!

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

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