“It’s concerning that around 15 per cent of businesses surveyed before the second lockdown announcement said they would close their business permanently – or they haven’t decided if they will reopen.”
There are an estimated 16,800 businesses in the CBD, Parkville, North Melbourne, West Melbourne and surrounds.
Paul Waterson is chief executive of Australian Venue Co, which runs 42 Victorian hospitality venues.
He said his company’s Melbourne pubs, which include the Duke of Wellington, had lost $80,000 in wasted food stock overnight. Across the state, his venues will lose $400,000 a week.
“It’s pretty devastating to the industry, and the industry’s pretty angry, to be honest,” he said.
“We’ve all been working really hard to do the right thing.”
About half his staff are on JobKeeper, but between 15 and 20 per cent are ineligible for any federal support as they are visa workers.
“There’s a real vibrancy and joy in staff in getting back to work after such a long period of shutdown,” Mr Waterson said on Wednesday. “To have this happen with no notice is really deflating for them.”
Up to 1 million people travelled into the CBD every day before the pandemic struck, but once stage three restrictions were imposed in March pedestrian numbers dropped by 90 per cent.
Even after restrictions were eased in May and June, pedestrian numbers barely recovered. On Tuesday, pedestrian activity was down 73 per cent compared to this time last year, according to the City of Melbourne.
“We expect foot traffic to fall even further over the next six weeks as people take the necessary safety precautions to slow the spread of the virus,” Cr Capp said.
Commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield estimates Melbourne’s commercial office vacancy rate will rise to 10-14 per cent.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that by the end of the first four weeks of the first lockdown, 10.6 per cent of jobs had been lost in inner Melbourne – the highest figure in Victoria.
There are fears the cumulative effect of two lockdowns could lead to many more jobs being lost.
The City of Melbourne estimates 13,000 organisations including businesses, charities and non-governmental organisations within its borders are accessing JobKeeper payments, which run out in September.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday the government was planning to extend further economic support to businesses struggling to survive amid the pandemic.
“We will have announcements to make very soon,” he said. “It’s important that we get that package of support right. And we will.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also moved on Wednesday to assure Victorians there would be more support available, although he offered no details. “I have been consistent in saying that there’ll be a further phase of support that goes beyond September,” he said.
Cr Capp urged CBD visitors to support city businesses in any way they could.
“I’m asking everyone to continue to support their favourite local haunts through takeaway and delivery orders. These businesses represent what we know and love about Melbourne. They need our support more than ever,” she said.
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Bianca Hall is City Editor for The Age. She has previously worked as a senior reporter, and in the Canberra federal politics bureau.
Rachel is a city reporter for The Age.
Chloe Booker is a city reporter for The Age.