May 14, 2020

As Australian states begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions, business owners have some serious questions they need to consider.

In a move that could prove to be welcome relief for business owners, hospitality and retail business in NSW will be allowed to have up to 10 patrons at a time.

The ‘slowly does it approach’ to reopening Australia’s businesses has Mark Bouris concerned about the growing number of zombie businesses and says there is not enough concern for the numbers that really matter.

“It’s easy to talk about how much we can control the number of people who actually get the virus, how many tests we do, and how many people have beaten it or died from it,” Bouris said.

“But the narrative we should be looking at, from my point of view, is the death of business – the loss of livelihood, the increase in mental health problems as a result of losing your purpose and business, and also the loss of amenity that we are going to suffer.

“The trade-off is being made by politicians and public servants about the private sector. This a private sector loss. No one in the public sector is actually feeling this loss.

“We didn’t introduce this problem to the country – yet we’re going to suffer from it.”

Current commentary is ignoring the business community

Bouris says that business owners are confused by the “incongruous” nature of the decisions being made by the various governments.

“How come you can have 10 people in a restaurant or a cafe, but you can’t have any in the gym?” Bouris said.

“How come you can have 10 people in a cafe with a size of 50sqm, but you can still only have the same number of people in a restaurant with a 500sqm size?

“They’re all value judgements being made, so it’s incongruous. People don’t understand it. They’re confused. They say it’s not fair.

“The outcome of all this is that we Australians in the private sector are being asked to take it in the neck in order for what is considered to be a bigger purpose – that is, we don’t put too much pressure on the health system.

“As I understand it, the health system is well and truly ramped up, ready to take on more. So taking it in the neck of the private sector doesn’t make sense.”

The economic impact needs to be considered

According to Mark, the government has done and excellent job in keeping Australia protected from a rising death toll, but say it’s now up to our leaders to ensure businesses stay afloat.

“Emerging from this is not just about how well we’ve controlled the number of outbreaks,” Bouris said.

“It’s also about how we as a country emerge in terms of our sustainable future – and that comes down to our financial health.

“At the end of the day, financial health sustains us. It puts food on our table.

“There are people out there, for example, who are still suffering from the bushfires and the floods that followed, and the droughts before that, who are now being hit by COVID and still living in tents.

“There are much bigger issues to be addressed right now, from my point of view, that what we have already solved to a large extent.

“The media keeps talking about the number of coronavirus cases – and that’s really important, I get it.

“But to be frank with you, how important is it to someone who owns a gym or restaurant, whose whole life is put into it, and they’re about to go broke and they can’t employ the people they’ve always employed?

“Let’s be fair dinkum about this. It’s about everybody. It’s about our total strength in this country to emerge for a better future.”

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